Working on my own family within my studio work led to conversations with and about other families, which over time led to family portrait commissions. Doing the work on my family and others showed me that making portraits is not so much about the character of the "sitters," about remembering, nor is the work primarily about me as the artist. My portrait commissions are mostly a response to a very specific need at a specific moment on the part of the person commissioning the piece. For example, a mother may commission a portrait of her children, but the portrait is ultimately generated from and for the mother and how she needs the children to be seen at that moment in time.
Each commissioner has a different reason for wanting a portrait of a family member, so each piece develops differently. More often than not, a commissioner thinks they want a portrait for one reason and then discover it is for other reasons, so making a meaningful family portrait is not answering to a pre-defined program. I have found that my job is to question the program and search for the deeper motivations. Several conversations and numerous renderings/mock projects and iterations with the family will slowly reveal what is actually going on. It is these revelations that will ultimately give form to the shape a piece will take and truly fulfil and celebrate the moment meaningfully.
One recurring quality, though, of my family portrait commissions, is that I make it possible for portraits to be divided among the children. Death and inheritance and the passing on of memory is built into the pieces. My family portraits are made up of multiple parts so that each child to, one day, can take their individual portrait with them to their newly formed family homes. That piece or fragment of the original piece will contain traces of the rest of the family and the memory of its original form.