Not Looking, Just Painting. By Rasmus Thuritz

Painting portraits of people without actually looking down at the paper and knowing what you are doing may sound crazy, but it is precisely the madness of it that makes me love it. Of course, the result may not always be physically similar to the person or object in question. But it emphasizes other parts that we do not always think of in ordinary cases. The portrait gets a heavier focus on emotions rather than perfect lines. It is a process that can be very intimate, and perspective filled. Never losing eye contact or looking away from a person until the portrait is done raises many thoughts. Why is he smiling? She touches a scar on her cheek, how did she get it? His eyes twinkle, did he just cry? Why was he crying? Why is she hugging her backpack so hard?

I paint everything and everyone whenever I can. People on the subway, colleagues in the office, friends at parties, family members at dinners. Most often without their knowledge, that’s when the truth comes out. When they have not been able to put up their wall in front of all the emotions. because, that’s partly what my portraits are all about. To capture moments in our lives rather than beautiful features.

But I haven’t always been painting like this. I remember a day in art class when I was getting frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get a portrait of my friend Adam to look as realistic as a photo. Too scared of making another failure I eventually just stopped painting. Luckily I had a very understanding teacher, she told me to start without even looking at the paper, only at my friend. I tried it, and the result was as far away from perfect as it could possibly come, but there was something magical about it that I really liked. No lines matched and it didn’t look like my friend at all. But somehow you could still see that it had Adams smile and happy eyes. I was only ten years old and didn’t really understood what I had done except for a funny portrait. But now I know that, by failing to make a photorealistic portrait, I managed to capture his inner self, his feelings.

And that’s why I continue to paint without looking at the paper. It’s a way for me to inspire myself and others that anything you do makes a difference. Someone made a person feel, and now that feeling is perpetuated on someone else’s wall. It doesn’t get any more magical than that.

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