This film captures real footage of Jacqueline Kamin painting an oil portrait of John Knight, a decorated veteran who fought in eight war zones in World War II. In 2017 Jacqueline and her daughter Stacy embarked on a special project to honor these men at the CalVet Veterans Home in Los Angeles by capturing their faces in oil, charcoal and watercolor and also recording their war stories on film. Jacqueline and Stacy’s artistic efforts culminated in a comprehensive show called “Drawn to Serve,” which had its premier opening on November 11, 2017 celebrating Veteran’s Day. The moving stories these men told helped Jacqueline and Stacy capture the spirit of this dying breed of men who put their lives on the line to protect our country.
“Painting John’s portrait was an amazing opportunity for me, as well as a very difficult project to attempt,” Jacqueline stated. “The lighting was probably the most problematic factor, because there were multiple light sources. I placed him with the strongest light available, a north-facing window illuminating the left side of his face, which gave me a distinct yet pale shadow plane on the right side of his face. This required transposing the shadow into a much richer, darker shade.”
After a brief introduction, the voices and conversations you hear capture the real life situation of this video, which shows how to deal with seemingly insurmountable lighting conditions on location when necessary. Jacqueline also shows how it is possible to create a beautiful and compelling portrait despite the odds.
In part two, Jacqueline shows how you can turn less-than-optimal conditions into a plus. In the midst of a hectic environment, it is important to develop equilibrium and the determination to stay focused on what you want to capture in the portrait. You witness the repartee between Jacqueline and her subject and how she keeps John in the spirit of the pose.
The mixing palette is onscreen as she works, giving you a sense of how not to over-mix and the importance of putting the paint on thickly and freshly. Having established the light and shadow on her subject, she creates a corner on the face by building up the light. This gives a feeling of three-dimension and retains the graphic impact of the portrait. The viewer hears talking in the background as these lively vets relay stories with animated anecdotes.
The problem of painting glasses on a face can often stump a painter. Jacqueline achieves this feat by getting the structure of the eyes first and then painting the glasses on top, making sure to keep the rims in proper perspective. Finally, Jacqueline simplifies the background to give the portrait more visual impact. The most important aspect of painting in less-than-ideal circumstances is to take control of the situation and create the portrait that gives the quality that you desire in the painting.
Within our series “Day in the Studio,” this is the first in a series of veteran’s portraits of our nation’s heroes that Jacqueline did on the spot, in the real world, outside of her studio. There are plans for “Drawn to Serve” to travel with testimonials where viewers will be able to see and hear from these great and brave men.
Portrait of John Knight
U.S.N, (Armed Guard), WWII, 1942-45
Eight War Zones
“An exciting but dangerous time for an 18 year old kid on merchant ships!”