I was recently commissioned to make a painting of Rabbi Yechezkel Landau Zt"l (1713-1793) Rabbi of Prague and author of Noda Beyehuda.
With little existing reference I set out to go back in time (in my mind) and face this Torah giant. I needed to imagine I see his face in front of me.
Another thing I tried to do was to connect to who he was. I felt it would, if only subconsciously, influence the way I paint him. I checked up about his life and the causes he was involved in. I tried to find time here and there to study from his sefarim. Can I say that this has had a positive effect on the resulting painting. It is difficult to judge. I think it did.
One thing is for sure: Approaching the painting with this attitude and finding opportunities to learn because of it has definitely had a positive effect on me.
I must remember that I am also a "painting" I'm working on.