Dutch portrait painter Mireille Ligterink came to her uniquely arresting four-tone style unconventionally, through her training in art therapy. The social interaction and emotional vulnerability that portraiture requires comes across in her close-up impressionist acrylic renderings, and also, more unusually, informs her very choice of palette. Formal and expressive considerations guide her process: for each face she chooses four colors that reflect the personality of her subject, while also picking one particularly striking facial feature to emphasize.
The resulting portraits often incorporate vivid hues and surprisingly bold shading reminiscent of prints or illustrations. Ligterink’s canvases focus our vision on a gaze, an eye or a nose. Subjects often stare out at the viewer from the frame, which makes for arresting encounters with strangers who begin to feel familiar. The combination of colors — alert yellows, calm browns, assertive blues — and stylized features makes the portraits very intuitively legible. One quickly gains a sense of Ligterink’s subjects, as if she had introduced them to the viewer in person.