The Daily Artist: The Eyes Have It! - Harnessing the Power of the Gaze

The Daily Artist: The Eyes Have It! - Harnessing the Power of the Gaze

Throughout my career, I've often been sought after for advice by individuals struggling with a portrait. People and their expressions have always captivated me, and even as a former photographer, I gravitated towards portraits, and definitely recognized the significance and importance of the eyes in portraiture.

I believe that the principles behind successful portraits extend beyond humans to any living being with eyes, whether real or imagined. My advice remains consistent over time: focus on the eyes. Once the eyes are portrayed effectively, everything else falls into place harmoniously.

This understanding stems from my lifelong admiration of Picasso's work. His depictions of eyes possess an inherent power that don’t overshadow the rest of the composition but rather inform it. Among his masterpieces, "Guernica" stands as the epitome of this power for me, although any of his works featuring eyes would suffice. The image of the horse's eyes illuminated under the lightbulb sun in that painting is something that will always haunt me in regards to its power.

When offering guidance on this topic, I emphasize the importance of infusing the creator's love into the eyes they bring to life. If they don't feel right, it is essential to discard and try again until they capture the desired essence they’re after. The eyes hold such pivotal significance in the overall portrayal and message of the piece.

-Sergio Santos