Guest Post: Dillon Yothers

I was supposed to have done this weeks ago, but I am a slothful and distracted person. I appreciate her patience and the opportunity to share the opening stage of this painting with her readers. So slothful and distracted am I that I still have yet to read one of her books! Historical fiction is my favorite type of fiction, so I truly do not know what my problem is. Not to worry though, Shades Of Milk And Honey is on my desk as I write this and I am cracking it open once this post is finished. Truth be told, I am more excited for Ghost Talkers though, as World War I is a favorite subject of mine.

When discussing with friends at a party that I was planning on painting a portrait of her in regency attire, with humility Mary mentioned that she had yet to understand why I would. The reasons are quite self-evident to me. Mary is charming and elegant, talented and accomplished, intelligent, and beautiful. I have had few chances to make such a statement on canvas, concerning a subject who is known to me, in fabulous adornment. In my estimation, the reasons to paint her in her finery are manifold and clear.


For me, this painting is an experiment. Nearly all the art I make is an experiment; once I have convinced myself I have mastered something, I lose interest in it. To date, I have only mastered charcoal drawing and shooting missiles in the original Twisted Metal. This being an experiment means it might fail and that only a vague course of action or plan can be followed. I had to summon the help of my friend Rodger because I was not up to the task of the photo-reference for something this formal. This is the largest canvas I have ever stretched (it does not fit my easel) and is only the second time I have attempted a full-length portrait. The first attempt was easily half this size or smaller and, like so many projects I begin, was left unfinished.

When this painting is complete, if I do not totally muck it up, observers might draw a comparison to Sargent—but only because it is a full length portrait of a lady in a gown done with a semi-impressionist attitude about what constitutes an edge or line. I am half the painter Sargent was, and moreover Mary’s dress is wrong for his time and the current year is 2015 and I will not be doing this alla prima. All of this is to say emulation is not my goal. I am not winking here. This is to be a full portrait of Mary Robinette Kowal done in 2015 in the best way I know how. I did not inherit a tradition. I am just a guy who took a few classes at art school who likes to paint portraits of women. As you can see there is a grid. I like to think I have the likeness down—which is the trickiest part. I will make a basic grisaille and, from there, try not to ruin it.


Some time in the future perhaps you will receive an update or two about my progress. Perhaps then I can weave in knowing remarks about Jane and Vincent if Mary lets me come back or shares the progress herself. When it is done, she will have a 66 inch tall painting to do with whatever she pleases.


Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Dillon now makes his home in Chicago, IL. He’s the son of an artist and the brother of an artist. His passion for the visual arts is a lifelong pursuit of creative expression and curiosity.


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