Fashioning a Portrait

This award-winning artist explores color and style

How does Daniel use color?

Daniel Lemke, 18, finds his inspiration in fashion blogs and on social media. A freshman at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth, Texas, Daniel plans to major in economics, and hopes to always have art as part of his life.

What inspired this portrait?

I created it as part of my AP Studio Art portfolio my senior year in high school. I worked with the theme portraiture and fashion.


Did you work from life or from a photo?

I worked from photos of a friend. I shot 200 photos in front of her garage, which gave me a flat, simple background.


Is this composition a reflection of the model’s personality?

Not really. Like in fashion, the focus of the images is about the clothes and textures, not about the model’s personality.


Daniel Lemke

How did you choose the colors?

I was thinking about bubble gum and cotton candy. I chose pinks and light blues to make the picture feel happy and bright.


What was your working process?

First, I photographed the model. I made sketches working from my favorite photos. In one sketch, the model’s feet looked too large. In another, her legs looked wrong. I chose the best sketch based on how balanced and natural the proportions of her body seemed. I sketched the figure with pencil on a large sheet of paper, and then I started painting. I laid the background color down first. Then I painted the figure. I added the large blocks of dark color first, and then added details like highlights and shadows.


What was most challenging about making this work?

The lines in the pants were really difficult. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do them accurately and they would distort her legs. In fact, they worked really well and helped establish the contours of her legs.


Do you have advice for aspiring artists like yourself?

Get out of your comfort zone. When you try new things, you’ll be surprised at what you can do. 


Daniel won a Gold Medal for his painting in the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

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