Portrait artist creating cherished keepsakes for loved ones abroad

Ratoath woman inundated with requests to create artworks for families to send to those who can't get home just yet

A PORTRAIT artist from Ratoath says she has been inundated with requests to create portraits for people to send to loved ones abroad that they are missing during lockdown.

Mary Duffy worked as a portrait artist in St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in Dublin for ten years before taking time out to have a family.

Wanting to get back into a creative occupation again, Mary, a graduate of NCAD in Dublin embarked on a course in Trinity College in January of this year targeted at artists who wanted to gain entrepreneurial skills to turn their art into a business.

She has been busy in recent months and has been commissioned to create portraits for people to send to loved ones abroad as she explains.

“As a portrait artist, people tell me stories,” she said.

“Over the last few months those stories were all about longing to see their families again, grandchildren they hadn't seen in months, daughters and sons who couldn't come home for a visit.

“So I started drawing hands, feeling that they were such an important symbol of our connection to those we love.

“After a lot of sketching I came up with a limited edition print of a drawing called 'Holding on.'

“It's a drawing of a child's hand being held by an older hand, maybe a parent or grandparent.

“I drew it at the start of the second lockdown when I realised that we were looking at more uncertainty. Nobody knows if we can travel at Christmas.

“We can't make plans so we are 'holding on.”

Mary says: “it's a message of love and hope to those who we can't be with this year to show them we miss them and that we're holding on until we can see them again.

"In January just gone I did a course in Trinity College focusing on how artists can turn their art in into a business and so I began to turn my skills as a portrait artist into an online venture.

“I was doing a lot of portraits for people who couldn’t be with their family and they were sending portraits to them.

“So I thought of coming up with something like the drawing of the hands that wasn’t a portrait but would encapsulate that idea of missing someone."

The online process of creating a portrait is just as effective if not simpler as a physical sitting as Mary explains:

“To do a portrait I’m sent a photograph of the person, usually it takes a while to get the right photograph because I need a really good one to work from.

“It is actually nearly better doing it this way, as for sittings, someone would have to sit there in the same position for at least 40 minutes and that’s difficult for people.

“You actually get a better expression because you have captured the expression already in the photograph.”

For further information, find “Mary Duffy Portraits” Facebook page.

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