Tampa Bay area artist approaches craft with patience to create portraits

In a small studio space, Cora Waterhouse spends hours with people, whether in person, with photographs or with art. She has been an artist for most of her life, creating cards, fashion, sculptures and murals. She specializes in portraits. 

"This is a slow process, and I have to spend a lot of time sitting there looking at or in company with these beautiful, beautiful photographs or these beautiful, beautiful people," Waterhouse said. "It's important that I capture just exactly the essence of who I want, whether they're looking at me or looking away from me, whether I capture their face or a gesture."

Waterhouse recently spent the day using pastel pencils and chalks to create a portrait of a little boy playing with a toy truck. Her reference is a photograph she took of him. 

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"When you get in the middle of this beautiful process, you just do what comes next. What's needed next? What area needs to be brought up next? You circle around, and you bring things up kind of together," she described. "Finding where one color can go to several places to pull that piece together, to bring out the rose in their cheek and also the rose in their fingers."

Waterhouse also paints with oils and creates black and white portraits using charcoal. No matter the style, each project takes weeks to complete. Every project starts with an interview. 

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"That to me is the fun part, is to find within that interview process the spark, the cute, the beautiful," she said. "With an adult, I will very often get the opportunity to actually do a sketch of them while I'm talking to them." 

Along with creating art, Waterhouse has also been teaching art for 15 years. She's taught adults and children at various schools and art centers throughout the Tampa Bay area.