I spend many long hours pouring over the fine details of a photograph to capture the nuance of a person and translate it into a likeness for a portrait.

My relationship to the subject is very one sided. I’m communing with an image, deeply thinking about that individual I’m portraying, connecting with that person, meditating on this person, familiarizing myself deeply with their essence. For months. But it’s only on my side. The sitter sat for a photo that was snapped months ago or more. A millisecond of time. That was the extent of our exchange. I’m out of mind after that, while here I’m laboring tirelessly over a shadow on the tip of a nose until I get it just right; hours and hours of looking.

This app, My Talking Pet, has given me a little joy in having a response from my creations. Like Geaseppo and Pinocchio, it makes them respond to me. I feel validated. Like, “Hey, I see you too.” To make your own, the app is available for both iPhone and Android and it’s free.

Jack Johnson detail, by Tess Felix, before it was completed.