Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook may (or may not) have heard that I recently became engaged to my wonderful and talented girlfriend of 5 years, Krysti Kalkman! While this exciting news may not at first seem to be the type of material meant for an art blog, painting played a huge role in the proposal, so I figured this would actually be a perfect place to share how it all went down.

So, sadly, it's been a long time since I've actually painted my girlfriend. In fact, aside from using her for more general reference in my client work, the last time I'd painted (or attempted to paint) her actual likeness was 4 years ago in our senior year of college (shown below).

...........My god. Those are hideous. Oh! I mean uh...not you Krysti! But I am pleased to see that I've come a little ways in my painting (and portrait) abilities!

So, wanting to rectify these previous atrocities against my girlfriend, I decided I'd like to do just a nice, loving portrait of her with the eldest of our flock of budgies, Johnny. Yeah. We're pretty much destined to be weird, old, bird people.

At this point, I was also seriously entertaining ideas of marriage and trying to come up with some grand scheme for how to pop the big question. Hearing all kinds of elaborate and romantic proposal stories through the years certainly puts on a good deal of pressure to the make the moment memorable. But, I realized that the more I tried to force the "magical romance" angle, the more likely I was to end up botching the whole thing because, let's face it, that's just not really me. And then it dawned on me; I may not be some magical knight in shining armor, but dammit, I'm a painter!

From that realization, and the desire to create a portrait of Krysti, the idea came to me to do what I like to think of as an "inverse portrait." Krysti already knew that I wanted to paint her portrait (and posed for some photos), but what she didn't know was that I would put a special little detail into it - specifically, painted onto the ring finger of her left hand. Whereas traditional portraiture strives to create an image that is true to real life, with this painting I would (hopefully) make real life become true to the image.

Once the painting was finished, I framed it in an old antique frame from my grandmother's house, and presented it to Krysti on April 19th, 2014. It didn't take her very long to notice the suspicious jewelry painted onto her portrait and that's when I took out the real ring, got down on one knee, and said, as romantically as I could muster, "Should we do this already?"


She said "yes!"

"The Proposal" 12"x16" Oil on Canvas