((Left) Rick Steber, (right) The Blacksmith | by JD Grinnell)
The ease of photography has just about put an end to the once-popular art of the painted portrait. For one Prineville artist, however, a photograph is just the starting point. In JD Grinnell’s process, props, lighting and background are further combined and manipulated to create paintings that don’t just look like the subject, but also capture their personalities. An exhibition of his work can be seen throughout the month of October 2021 at the Prineville library.
Titled Central Oregon Portraits, ten oil paintings depicting local personalities are on display in the library lobby. Ranging from the well-known such as author and entrepreneur Rick Steber to the well-hidden such as mechanic Michael Juetten, who can usually be found working underneath a big rig, every subject is paired with the distinctive tools of their trade. The backgrounds are so important, moreover, that the portraits can be titled, The Quilter, The Blacksmith and the like rather than Portrait of John Smith. Half the fun, in fact, is identifying people who you know!
Oregon native JD Grinnell has lived in Prineville for over 20 years, but has been painting seriously for only the last five. “I love the drama of portraits done by the giants of the late 1800’s. Some of my favorites are painters such as John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase. I don’t expect to ever be in their company, but the fun of every painting is to make the attempt.”
Other examples of Grinnell’s work can be seen at Rick Steber — Makers showroom in Prineville, and online at JDinORArt.Etsy.com.