Portraits by Art Pressman, in either oil, pastel or charcoal, are unique. They have been described as being almost photographic in technique yet seem to catch the essence of a person and go beyond ordinary realism. Among his clients have been Governor Lawton Chiles (Florida), Governor Toney Anaya (New Mexico), F. Lee Bailey, attorney, B.J. Thomas, singer, Earl Thomas Conley, musician, Harrison Schmidt, U.S. Senator and Astronaut, and R. C. Gorman, artist. Sittings are not required, only good quality photographs that capture a person's favorite expression, are all that are needed. Mr. Pressman is also quite accomplished in landscape, marine paintings, Southwest art, pet portraits, and any kind of specialized subject matter.
Art Pressman was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945. He knew he wanted to be a painter as early as the age of five. He graduated from Pratt Institute in NYC in 1967 with a BFA degree in Art Education. It was as an undergraduate and as a 15 year-old at a special painting class a Pratt that he was mostly influenced by the abstract expressionism movement. In the early 1970's he gradually changed to a realistic style, painting from that time on, a variety of subjects including portraiture for which he is in much demand and perhaps best known.
"What attracted me initially to "abstract expressionism" as distinguished from other types of nonobjective art, was the fantastic use of color and the rich textures and broad brushstrokes employed by the best artists of that style and period. It seemed as if these artists were combining the spiritual qualities and technical achievements of the old masters with the contemporary ideas of nonobjectivity and abstraction. However, after working a number of years in that discipline, I came to realize that it is much more difficult to create a quality abstract painting than a painting which refers in some manner to the visible world. This occurs I believe, because the abstract artist is inventing a structure or conception or personal vision which most people cannot identify with. Without identification or communication, art has lost one of its basic functions. I also discovered that when I reviewed the best of the abstract expressionistic works, I could really only select a very few that I would call masterpieces. The vast majority of these paintings fell short of truly great art. For myself as an artist, I felt this direction was not for me, and I decided to reacquaint myself with the drawing talents I had been born with, and I pursued realism with a passion."
Art Pressman is a highly diversified artist and is forever expanding his subject matter and ideas. After moving to Albuquerque in 1982, he gained much recognition for his southwest scenes of American Indians, pueblos, missions and landscapes. He frequently works on a commission basis (orders), and his paintings are in public and private collections around the world. He began selling his paintings at the age of eight and has participated in numerous art exhibitions, galleries, indoor and outdoor art fairs and shows and hotels throughout the United States. Currently living in Florida as of 1986, he has already added to his painting repertoire the beautiful landscapes, seascapes and wildlife themes that make Florida a painter's paradise.
"I believe the greatest art has come from the realistic tradition (reference to the visible world) because it is through realism that the artist can best capture the indefinable qualities of universal truth. There is a spiritual essence permeating all of life which manifests mainly as sound and light energy. In music, the universal sounds can be heard and experienced in and through the harmonies created by great composers. (Mr. Pressman studied classical piano from 1959-1964 with a student of Claudio Arrau). In painting, the light energy of the universe can be seen and experienced largely by the subtle color harmonies created by like masters. In my art, I always strive to maximize this vitality or vibration so the viewer will gain instant recognition of the higher planes through the level of soul-awareness."
"Art for me has been my deepest form of self-expression through which I can communicate to the world and my fellow human beings the beauty and mystery of life's profundity and goodness. It has been thus far for me a significant factor in my personal path for soul's exaltation and the unfolding of consciousness. As I am guided in my creations, I also observe my inevitable striving towards the unknown and infinity."
My portraits comprise about one-half of all my sales as a professional artist. All of my clients have been more than just satisfied with my paintings because I work in a highly realistic and yet flattering style. I have a one hundred percent track record.
I work best from photographs because a photograph that a client chooses will have the expression they like best and this is very important. In other words, we can have one hundred different "looks" depending upon our mood, setting, etc. Therefore, I will take a lot of photos of the person or persons, and other subjects, from different angles and in different settings. This will give the client a variety of expressions to choose from. Many times I have been asked to paint a particular face on a particular body and this comes out looking completely natural.
After gathering all the necessary material to work from, I will then transform these references into a highly flattering and beautifully colored original artwork. The word flattering needs definition here. People don't actually need flattering. The camera shows every detail of the person. The artist is selective and shows just what is needed to make the person or subject come alive on the canvas. The photograph is important for the expression of the subject and the structure of the face. All else is invented by the artist - the skin color, sense of three-dimensionality, texture, composition, softness of skin, and sense of vibrancy and reality, etc.
I will meet the subjects if available, to get a sense of their "personality" or more importantly the potential of their "looks." Sometimes a client would like me to create a painting based on a favorite photo taken many years ago. For the painting, I can suggest different backgrounds, settings, etc. I can paint large complex portraits with many people or just one subject. The client and I work together to effect a proper size and arrangement of people, objects, animals, etc. I will take as many photographs as necessary to be able to show the client exactly the type of painting he will be getting. My work is "guaranteed" in the sense that if a touch-up needs to be done I will do it. For example, a person might not have accurately described the proper eye color for someone - it might need a little more blue, etc.
Besides my artistic abilities, I would say my strongest asset is that I communicate very well with people and listen to what it is they want from me, artistically. I have an ability or talent in meeting their expectations.
Financially speaking, I usually require a deposit of one-half the total price of the painting before I start (payments can be arranged). The balance is due upon completion of the painting, which generally is within a few months' time. If the client is local, I will deliver the painting myself. If the client lives out of town, I will send a professional photograph of the final work for approval before delivery. The client pays for shipping and for any travel expenses incurred when I take the initial photographs.