Talented artist paints realistic portraits


Katrina Dang

Some portraits of family and friends painted by Dang. All of these paintings are commissions except for Dang’s self portrait (left painting).

Gracie Huebner, Reporter

Not all talented artists are limited to the names van Gogh, Picasso or da Vinci. Artists willing to take their talents to the next level can appear on the local scale, too, even if they’re only in high school.

Senior Katrina Dang got to share her passion for painting realistic oil portraits when she decided to put herself out as a commission artist at the start of this year. Her painting skills have developed since taking her first formal painting lessons in the second grade.

“I’ve always been involved and attracted to the arts since I was young,” Dang said. “That’s when I was introduced to oil paint and that’s where I learned everything I know now.”

Although Dang took these formal lessons for a couple of years, she eventually took a break from painting. However, she was able to reconnect with her artistic side in high school when she started taking art classes every year. This further prompted Dang to continue her pursuits in becoming a commission artist.

“I created my own website and social media accounts to put myself out there to get commissions,” Dang said. “At first it started with close family then it kind of started to grow through word of mouth through their friends.”

Caytre Ede, Dang’s cousin — a former Carlsbad student — has been able to see Dang foster her artistic passions within her family sphere. 

“I would describe Katrina’s work as incredibly realistic, with attention to the details that makes her paintings even more beautiful than the real-life pictures,” Ede said. “She has cultivated this talent of art throughout many years so I would say that she contains a serious dedication to her passion as an artist.” 

Currently, Dang has completed paid commissions for multiple recipients. The process of initiating a commission starts with the recipient discussing what picture they want to have painted, the canvas size and the price. However, even with school in session, Dang still manages to get these commissions completed.

“When the commission has a deadline and if someone wants to give it as a gift, it’s more stressful as it’s considered more work at that time because I have to get it done,” Dang said. “But at the same time painting these commissions is almost like taking a break because I get a break from looking at a screen all day and I can just sit down and paint while listening to music. It’s a good break away from the computer, but at the same time I’m still being productive.”

In her living room, Dang has a corner dedicated to her art projects where she can complete these commissions for both her friends and her family. Senior Aarya Desai received a portrait from Dang and was surprised to see the results.

Dang’s oil portrait of Desai.

“When Katrina painted a realistic portrait of me, I was amazed,” Desai said. “When she first showed me the final painting, I thought it was the picture she was referencing of me. But when realizing that it was her work, I was astonished at the beautiful facial and hair details. I was extremely impressed with Katrina’s ability to paint such a realistic portrait of me and I think her work came out perfectly.” 

On average, all of Dang’s paintings take at least 30 hours to complete and 40 hours on average. These hours also take into account the entire preparation process, whether that be buying the canvas or scaling the pictures. 

“Each painting takes a lot of commitment and time dedication,” Dang said. “That’s why sometimes it may seem like it drags on a bit since you’ve been spending time on one painting for so long. But the outcome is worth it because it’s really fun to give the painting to them to see how they react.”