I want to take a moment to share a very special painting that I had the chance to create last year, for one of my most ardent fans, Hasan Niyazi.
Sadly, he passed away last month, far too young, at 38. I am so humbled to have known him, albeit briefly and across oceans, and will always regret never having had the chance to meet him in person. Hasan described himself as an amateur art historian, but he was as passionate and knowledgeable about Renaissance painters (especially Raphael), as the professionals. He reached out to me for an interview in 2011, and I had the pleasure of answering some of the most interesting and thoughtful questions of any interview I'd accepted. He'd never bought an original painting before, but wanted to start his collection with a piece from me- a true honor. His commission request was unique, as it was the first time a client asked me for a painting of himself done in the renaissance style. I was a bit nervous as it was way out of my comfort zone, but in the end he loved what I did with it, and I was happy with the results as well. So in celebration of his life and love of Renaissance portraiture, I will share his inspiration for this piece and a bit of the process. Every element in this piece had personal significance to him, and was specifically requested, so I had to compose them in the most practical way to fit the basis of his inspiration, this painting which is rumored to be Raphael's self portrait: -Hasan wanted his likeness in Renaissance garb, and offered styling suggestions by providing example paintings of the period. -The hills near his house, the view from those hills of the city skyline, bushy trees, and what he called the 'magical looking dead tree' near his house, all were very important to the picture. -His two cats, Astro and Kimba make an appearance. -The ring on his finger and the Rose of Sharon, are both for his beloved partner of 12 years (which I placed near his heart). -He even wanted a subtle Star Wars reference, and provided a piece of concept art of Jabba's Palace. -The brooch on his hat bears the image of Aphrodite, as a reference to Cyprus, the birthplace of his parents and the Greek deity. -He also sent me a photo of sunset clouds near his home, that I adapted into the piece. -It was certainly a challenge, and I had to scrap the painting at one point and start over completely, as I had lost the freshness in the first attempt. But it was all worth it, to hear his overjoyed response upon seeing it finished and in receiving it early this year. Here is my second attempt at the painting, still in the rough stage. The final piece. 7" x 7" Acrylic on wood.
I still can't believe I finished this painting a year ago today, and it makes me very sad to know that he left us all so soon. One of the last messages I received from Hasan was a tweet telling me how lucky he felt to own an original piece of mine, and that he counted it among his most prized possessions. A photo of the portrait, framed, and hanging on his bedroom wall. Here's to you, Hasan, wherever you may be. You will be missed. And to his loved ones and family, I wish you strength and much love. A very special thanks to Sharon for granting me permission to make this post. xxx