The Painter • Songkhla’s Reclusive Portrait Artist • สงขลา • THAILAND

Mr. Saenee is a old-school painter. He creates portraits of people with a brush and oil.

He is hidden on a side street in Songkhla, Thailand. His style is closer to sketching than painting. He seems to always use nubby brushes. Brushes with the hairs worn down almost to the metal band which claps them to the thin wooden stick.

The Painter squeezes out paint. Mini mountains of creamy pigments. Light chocolate. There’s very little pink and red. He’ll use these paints for coloring the skin in his portraits.  “Westerns have pink skins. Asians have brown skin,” says the painter.

He stared at the old black and white portrait – stretching his neck forward a little. Then he looks down to his pile of paint and darts the stubby brush into one pile and then another. Rubbing it around, mixing the colors. Then with a creamy color he likes, he starts to sketch at the canvas with his stubby paint brush.

The Painter spends days, weeks, working on a portrait. A little white mixed in with creamy yellow and brown. He’ll feather the texture of an old man’s hair one day. Smooth the skin of a young woman the next. And lips. Are they curling upwards in a slight smile? Are they flat or even frowning? When he paints, he looks and meditates on people in old photographs. I wonder how this changes how he looks at people who are alive?

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