Mardie Rees was selected as one of the top twenty finalists in the 2013 International Portrait Competition. All finalist are required to exhibit their selected and original artwork at the prestigious Art of the Portrait conference put on by the Portrait Society of America in Atlanta, GA. The final judging and award ceremony will take place Saturday April 27th at the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta, GA. Awards will be given for each of the top twenty artworks, with more than $60,000 in cash and prizes.
Mardie Rees’ portrait bust, La Petite Fluer, was selected based on skill and technique, as well as aesthetic and emotional content.
Here are some questions asked of me after I received word that I was a finalist.
Can you provide some information about the subject of your Portrait?
When my daughter, Jasmine, was about eighteen
months old I decided to attempt a portrait bust of her with her baby face. She was impossible to get to sit still and I
always had to get help measuring her with my calipers and as life would have
it the project got set aside. Shortly after she turned two years old I came
across the portrait in my studio and realized I had let six months pass. By
then she looked more like a little girl then a baby, and so I immediately took
up my tools and finished the portrait as she was then, before she could turn
two-and-a-half. It turned out to be
easier to sculpt her when she would sit still long enough to watch Elmo. It was
a precious time that I hope captures the innocence and wonder of that age.
Can you also talk about the inspiration for this particular portrait?
I have always loved the portrait bust of a little girl by Camille Claudel titled "La Petite Chatelaine." I also found Houdon’s portrait of a young girl, “Alexandre Brongniart,” also of great inspiration. There are so few sculpted portraits of young children that exude what we all know and love about children. I am always looking for the beauty of innocence and a sense of wonder.
What are the specific qualities that you strive for to make a portrait a strong piece of art?
A portrait is finished when I feel it portrays emotion, shows harmony
in the marks and shapes that frame the face, and shows likeness in both the features
and personality. Most of all I look to see if the work “breathes” on its own
and draws an understanding from the observer – What is the subject saying? What
are they feeling?