Artist Spotlight: Rainer Andreesen

Andreesen's lively and sophisticated portraits reveal why he has a huge (celebrity) fan base.

BY Christopher Harrity

March 02 2013 4:05 AM ET


Above: Brushing Up
We discovered Andreesen's work as a happy accident when researching our story on Victor Garber in January and took that opportunity to set up an Artist Spotlight with him.

Creating portraits is something Rainer Andreesen has been doing as far back as he can remember. Born in 1963 in Prince Rupert, Canada, Rainer had an artistic ability that was encouraged throughout his childhood and adolescence. With a desire to paint and the urging of his art instructors, Rainer pursued a career in art by attending a four-year intense arts and design program at Capilano College in Vancouver, Canada. In 1986, after graduating with honors, Rainer excelled in the advertising industry with design and illustration at a top ad agency and design studio for six years. In that time, he also opened up a successful design studio where a fashion photographer client encouraged him to model on a project. Shortly after that Rainer was recruited by an exclusive modeling agency in Milan and worked with such clients as Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Valentino, Hugo Boss, and Zenga. While traveling in Europe for three years, Rainer had the chance to study the paintings of the European masters and sketch and paint at every opportunity. Following his European adventures, New York beckoned, and it remains Rainer's main residence. With successful shows in Los Angeles, where he also resided for eight years, Rainer has established himself with a strong client base and has had pieces collected by celebrities such as Ben and Jennifer Affleck, Nathan Lane, Clive Davis, J.J. Abrams, Alfred Molina, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Short, Laura Linney, Alan and Arleen Alda, and David Hyde Pierce. With his portraiture, Rainer has enjoyed capturing not only a likeness but also the spirit and depth of his subjects. His influences range from John Singer Sargent to Robert Henri, and he is inspired from the people and experiences that surround his New York life. His studio is now in upstate New York, where he spends most of his time painting commissions. RainerArt.com for more information


The Advocate: Do you work from live sittings?
Rainer Andreesen: Most of the time I work from photographs that I take, and sketches if there is time. I feel it is most comfortable for all parties involved to work in this way. I usually know most of my subjects personally, or if I don't, I get to know them while I photograph them. Capturing a likeness is key for me, but it is equally important to capture their spirit also. This is something I strive for in my portraits. I will labor over a portrait until that feeling comes through the canvas for me. It feels like an intimate conversation when I am painting someone's portrait and as it progresses a window seems to open into their soul.

How did you begin painting, and which other artists inspire you?
I started painting watercolor and drawing at the age of 5 and have been painting in oils about 20 years now. I am largely inspired by a lot of the old masters, but John Singer Sargent is someone that is a constant influence and inspiration to me. I am also inspired by contemporary living artists such as Eric Fischl and Christian Vincent.

How did you and Victor Garber meet? What is it like to paint someone you are in a relationship with?
Victor and I were introduced briefly at first by a mutual friend, producer Neil Meron. We were both seeing someone at the time, and two years later, Victor asked Neil if he was still in touch with me. We went on a date, and 14 years later we are still on that date.
It is a great joy to paint Victor, but I have to say that it can be a little nerve-racking also. He is like a second pair of eyes for me. If I am having a tough time with a painting, he is always there with a great critique. He really helps me though the whole painting experience. So when I paint him, I feel that it needs to be great.

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