When I paint a person, I don't try to replicate every physical detail. Instead, I attempt to capture what that person projects: it may be a glint in his or her eye, perhaps a wry smile; it might be a "don't tread on me" attitude or a deep-core vulnerability. Most of the subjects I paint project a definite aura, and bringing that unique essence to light is my primary objective. Although depicting their physical presence accurately is a significant consideration, it is not as essential.

Although much of what I do in the painting process varies from painting to painting, one thing remains constant—my preparation. I disagree when painters say that exuberance is more important than planning. For me, planning is crucial…and it's exciting. I spend hours sketching and familiarizing myself with the subject's facial characteristics. By the time I get to the paint, I have formed an idea of who she or he is, and my aim is to share that particular vision with the viewer. Life is full of surprises, and exploring the unexpected differences between human beings is an unending source of delight.

- Al Zerries