Despite their modest scale and deceptively casual manner, Peyton's intimate portraits draw the viewer like a magnet, condensing emotion into the picture plane. Her concise brushstrokes imbue the photographic image with an emotional energy, simultaneously recalling both Renaissance miniatures and Pre-Raphaelite romanticism. Transformed into a small votive image, this intimate icon – Craig – throws into relief Peyton's use of devotional portraiture in her treatment of her unambiguously modern subject matter. Craig, like all of her subjects – androgynous, "pretty," feline, stylized – glows with godly incandescence.
Peyton democratically selects her subjects from among both her close friends and figures in the public eye; the only prerequisite seems to be extreme physical beauty. Her technique recalls Warhol's program, rescuing portraiture from its elitist past. Blurring social boundaries, Peyton's oeuvre presents a parallel aristocracy equally worthy of depiction. One responds in an intensely personal way to individuals whose lives and actions she deems heroic, noble, and inspirational. In the present work, "Craig" is Craig Walden a fellow artist and friend of Peyton. He is rendered just as beatifically, however, as the major celebrities Peyton often paints. With a faceted face, ruby lips, and locks of buttery yellow hair, he is a mortal made divine. As the artist explains: "There is no separation for me between people I know through their music or photos and someone I know personally. The way I perceive them is very similar, in that there's no difference between certain qualities that I find inspiring in them." (Elizabeth Peyton cited in Rizzoli, Ed., Elizabeth Peyton, New York, 2005, p. 16).