Meet Sami!

SOFA Chicago 2010 has come and is gone, but it brought Sami to town. Sami Harawi is an owner of Mostly Glass gallery. Sami and I go back to 2003, when I was doing weaving. It was January 2003. Sami called me out of the blue, took all my weavings and sold nearly all my production within a few months, and wanted more. But this is not a sole reason I love him. I love him because he is such a lovable person. I only get to see him once a year when he brings his gallery exhibit to SOFA Chicago. I then come and hang around his gallery doing my best to distract him from his sales. I stay after the show close and help pack the art. I wrote about this last year, with pictures.

This year I came with a camera too because I wanted to draw Sami’s portrait, as well as anyone else’s who would agree. After collecting several good shots of Sami I told him that I am going to make him look beautiful. Sami grumbled back “If you’ll make me look better than I do, I’d know that you can’t draw!” I took this very seriously.

So, here I have for you – Sami: wrinkles, 5 o’clock stubble and an expression “I need a break, please!” He is tired by the end of day 3 of the show, but still very handsome.

#31 of 40. Graphite, Moleskine Cahier sketchbook

And here Sami and I are having a reunion hug on Day 1 of the show.

Sami and I - SOFA Chicago 2010


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  1. Reply
    lesliepaints November 20, 2010

    Has it been a year since I met you? Oh my, how time flies. I remember the post last year when you spoke of Sami! That was when I first found your blog. 🙂 My goodness. If realism is what you are after, you have totally accomplished that with Sami’s portrait. How good is that plaid shirt!!!!! The expression is priceless and Sami should be so pleased that you followed his advice. Awesome, Alex…truly awesome.

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis November 20, 2010

      “My goodness” is right! I didn’t realize it was a year since we met either! Congratulations to both of us :).

      Thank you so much for liking the portrait! I got a little carried away with the shirt. It was so much fun making fabric folds on plaid that I over-detailed it, for the same old reason – to see if I can. I can see now that the shirt diverts attention from the face to some degree. This is exactly the reason I generally have clothing under-developed in these sketches.

  2. Reply
    Lou November 21, 2010

    Looks great! Demonstrates (again) that realism lives. Demonstrates that realism flourishes. (Move over Rembrandt!) Also, shows a lot of empathy, communicability of affect, and humanity. Great job!

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis November 21, 2010

      LOL about the Rembrandt comment :lol:! But thank you for the comment on realism, that was certainly the intent!

  3. Reply
    Carol King November 21, 2010

    I remember seeing your tapestries a while back. And now these amazing portraits. You are so talented!!!

    I love Sami’s expression. You’ve got it exactly…”I need a break, please”.

    I love these portraits, because, while realistic, there is a quality that you capture that no camera can. Can’t wait to see more.

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis November 21, 2010

      You are such a sweetheart saying these nice things about my work! Talent is an interesting discussion. It comes up every so often in art class situations. I never attempted figurative art until two years ago because I was convinced I had no “talent”. My two art teachers, George and Kaye, both independently maintain that art talent is not an ability to produce a recognizable image, but an ability to work hard and put considerable and long-term effort into one’s art practice.

      Interesting how this concept applies to any discipline!

  4. Reply
    asmalltowndad November 23, 2010

    These are all incredible! Each piece shows a wonderful spirit of each individual. Very beautiful!

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis November 23, 2010

      Thank you so much, Ryan! So glad you like them!

  5. Reply
    Artswebshow November 25, 2010

    Great drawing.
    You captured the exact personality in the photo.
    I can never get my portraits as acurate

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis November 25, 2010

      Thank you, Richard! I learned on WetCanvas that the only way to get likeness is being exact. Then I confirmed that from my experience. I just wish I could manage to be as exact drawing from life as I can do from a photo reference. Drawing from a reference is much simpler. Are you finding that out as well?

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