I get asked a lot about my approach to portraiture. Questions like "Why do you exaggerate?" or "Why is it that you feel like the subject can't look exactly like they are in real life or in the photograph?". My answer is usually simple: I don't consider myself a human photocopy machine. I was trained in all the traditional ways. I learned how to draw and replicate everything I see in front of me or in a photograph, but things happened. I evolved and developed my own style and my own approach. Perhaps some of it was a natural progression, but I do have to credit art school with a good deal of it. As freshmen we were trained from the ground up, learning to draw the most basic elements of shape and form. I drew everything from cardboard boxes to the ellipses of stool seats. I certainly had prior practice in drawing before art school, but even for the most untrained it brought you from the most simplest of shapes into complex compositions, both organic and inorganic. I've always enjoyed drawing faces, and I think I started drawing at such a young age that over time I learned those beneficial observation skills. Art school also taught me that you should add your own approach and personal touch to anything that you do. What I'm trying to say is that, yes I have a firm understanding of drawing what I see, and replicating it exactly on paper, but that's not my natural approach. I feel like I have to take it further and give it expression, particular in portraiture, and add my own style to the piece. I feel like a sit a fence at times between stylized portraits and caricatures. I prefer the former term, simply because the word "caricature" conjures up associations with state fairs and theme parks where the work is often rushed, highly coached, and doesn't even look like the person being depicted. Stylized portraits is a term that better describes what I set out to do. They're realistic, in a way, but things are emphasized to better illustrate the person's personality or expression in a way that a photograph could not. That, I think, is how I gage my success in a piece.