Facial Differences: #7 of Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project

Portrait of man with grey hair, goatee
Portrait of man with grey hair, goatee

Richard Snider

#7 of Kellie Snider’s 100 Faces Portrait Project

Oil on Stretched Canvas

12″ x 12″

The Model:

Richard is the husband of the artist. We’ve been married since 1987, so we know each other fairly well by now. We met when we both worked at NASA, Johnson Space Center. We worked for the TV contractor at the time, Taft Broadcasting. Richard was a supervisor in the control room, and he also was an AV guy for shuttle landings at Edwards Airforce Base, and a diver who filmed astronauts doing underwater weightlessness training. This job was so fascinating that once or twice he fell asleep under water. His big love has always been music, and for years he played with various bands as well as solo. In recent years he worked as an engineer for Mica Corporation, a company in Texas that builds smart highway systems. Their motto is, “Signs that tell you where to get off”. We have two sons and 3 cats.

The Project:

I wanted to include Richard’s portrait in the series but there was a problem. So far, I’ve never managed to paint a portrait of him that he likes. When I painted this portrait, Richard was recovering from major facial surgery due to skin cancer, so that didn’t help. I under-emphasized the scars, most of which have diminished dramatically since the surgery anyway, but you can see their shadows on his forehead and the bridge of his nose. He was a lot more sensitive to them than I realized. We spend a lot of time alone together, so I had just grown accustomed to how he looks, and honestly didn’t consider his sensitivity to it. (Sorry, Honey!) I find his looks comforting. The scars don’t register to me. But that isn’t fair to him.

To me, his portrait shows his gentle eyes, and interested expression. He’s always really good to me. Since his retirement he has taken over most of the chores around the house, from cooking to lawn work, you name it. This leaves me free to paint and write and try to make a late-in-life career. It’s pretty awesome. He’s so supportive, I can’t believe how lucky I am.

Going forward I will try to communicate with my subjects to ensure that any sensitivities are addressed. Honestly, people usually don’t commission portraits if they don’t like something about their faces. But commissions are often made by someone other than the sitter. A spouse, parent, child, or co-worker. It’s wise to communicate with the model whenever possible.

He still doesn’t like this portrait. I will probably try again one day.