One of the biggest problems portrait painters have is what to do with the background. Often it is just filled in with dark color values, a fireplace, or books on a book case.
This is a painting of a woman who owns a store that sells all sorts of lamps. I felt it needed to portray that fact. The woman is the most important part of the portrait, so she takes up most of the space. She is painted in bright colors. The lamps are in the background – very small, yet apparent, with muted tones. The background should never overpower the subject matter. Doing it this way provides a portrait of the woman, while at the same time, lets you know what she’s all about.