I was asked to do a portrait of a good friend of mine, a portrait if him and his dog. I was very flattered that his partner asked me on the sly to paint this picture of him for his birthday/Christmas. Obviously as this was on the sly I painted it from a photograph. I was a little worried by the photo as it was a quick snap that someone took on their phone and so the detail and focus wasn’t as good as I would have liked. I had a go and kept with the same dulled down colour palette from the photo which I think worked. I also tried to keep the background in a slight blur so that you would concentrate on the portrait which I think worked too.
It’s always a little nerve racking doing a portrait of a friend as it means so much more to you as an artist to get it right, but at the same time at least you really know them so you can tell when you’ve got it right.
It was also the first time I’ve painted a dog, and again this dog means the world to my friend so again this has to be right – scary!
I tried hard. I hope they liked it!
This was another chance to do a charcoal portrait. I did this one at school where I had the opportunity to have a model sit for me for 3 hours. Sadly I didn’t have 3 hours as I was late! I gave myself the challenge of drawing from a donkey. This is a lower bench that you can sit on so that when drawing you can get very close up from underneath the model. This makes it quite a bit harder as the angle is very difficult. The usual way of mapping out a face completely changes here. The nose and eyes and mouth are much closer together and all the shapes change. Personally I really prefer portraits from this angle – there is something rather grand about the pose. It can be really hard to get this right. I wish I had another couple of hours on it. I love the mood of charcoal portraits.
This week has been a little difficult as Kea has been really unwell with a stomach bug. He has been off school all week poor thing feeling rotten. Luckily in-between looking after him I have had a chance to carrying on painting while he has watched films or slept.
I’ve been concentrating on a portrait I said I would do for someone. She is called Ruby. I had to do this portrait from a photo as I don’t actually know Ruby. I was given a selection of photos to do it from and the one I chose was this one.
I double checked with her mother if there were any of the photos she didn’t like so much or one that she preferred and she assured me that she liked all of them. I chose this particular pose because I felt out of all the photos this was where she looked the most natural. I got on with the job.
I finished most of it and decided to send a photo of what I had done so far to Ruby’s mother and sadly I got a response asking if I could paint the arm out. Sadly it isn’t quite as easy as ‘paint the arm out’ as this would totally change the lighting and shadows etc and it would mean making up half of her face which is never easy to do. I can understand what she means as I know she would like a clean portrait of her daughter, but then on the other hand I rather like the arm, giving it a much more relaxed feel. It is more unusual to have a portrait like this but I think it gives it something different, a contemporary felt . What do you think about it?
I can’t paint out the arm and will give her the painting tonight. I hear that Ruby likes it with the arm, I just hope her mother won’t be too disappointed.
Sargent is a hero of mine. I find his work inspirational, exciting and so beautiful. Most of the work I have seen are of his oil paintings and its mainly his portraits that really float my boat. However this last week I have been to see some of his watercolours at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Yet again I was blown away by his work. He makes it all look so easy yet you know that if you have a go just how quickly you can muck it up. His use of colour is incredible and the simplicity to the work was stunning, so effective. His work really shows you how important it is to remember that everything is a shape and that nothing is a line. His decision in what to define and what to loosen up is key to the work. One can be so tempted to define everything as our eyes tend to want to do that. This takes away the magic. When you see his work it makes you realise how much of what you see isn’t in detail and that you don’t need to see everything in so much detail, it is not important.
His composition is also very interesting. One has a habit of wanting to include everything but instead he chooses very small key areas of the subject which you can see here in the fountain that he did. The whole fountain is not included but that doesn’t matter, the cherubs are the beautiful part of the fountain – the rest is not so important. He also shows this with the background. It can be very easy to get caught up on the background of something you are painting, thinking that it is good to record everything. Here Sargent paints a really simple and washed out background because what he wants is for you to concentrate on the fountain. Painting in a really detailed background would just distract you from the main reason for the painting. This is what I really like about his portraits. Sargent is so clever at putting detail into the most important part of the portraits – the face. The rest of the portraits are so loosely done, with huge brush strokes giving the audience an impression. This really draws your eye into their faces just like you are really drawn into this fountain.
This exhibition is on at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. If you are near, I think its a great exhibition and a must see!
For the last couple of weeks I have been painting a portrait of this women in blue. I thought that it might be a fun thing to show how the process works. It’s often fun to take photos along the way so you can see the all the mistakes you have made and the progression – hopefully!
It’s important to put a wash on your canvas/board first to knock the white away as it can be distracting. Then take your time to draw your portrait in a dark colour making sure you double check your proportions. Then find the shadow shapes and draw them and fill them in thinly. To get the likeness of someone concentrate on the 5 essential darks which are under the eyebrows, eyes, under the nose, top lip and under the bottom lip. Now add skin tone. Start painting in the colour that features the most which would be the middle tone. At this point avoid the shadow shapes as you have already blocked those in. As you go along its alway good to tweak the lines and shapes making sure that all the way along the process you are getting proportions right. Start to add in the highlights and make sure you leave all the details to the last sitting.
Mr T curled up and asleep in his favourite spot – oil on canvas
I thought it might be a good idea to introduce you to one of my cats this week. Mr T is a big part of this family and hasn’t really been himself. He went to get some teeth out not long after a nasty cut down his tongue. Life feels good and normal when he is sitting on the sofa in his place, biting my bottom to wake me up in the morning, but this week he hasn’t been there which was worrying. After an operation earlier this week he has been very wobbly and has been hallucinating. Goodness knows what he has been seeing but there have definitely been times when I thought he was laughing his head off!
I’m pleased to say though that things are now back to normal and he is now back again sitting in his favourite spot and he bit my bottom to get me up this morning. Phew!
The twins playing in the park – oil on canvas.
It has warmed up here and it feels like the summer has truly arrived. We have been spending huge amounts of time outside after school. The parks near where I live are large open spaces with a few trees. We have been playing amongst these trees which reminded me of this portrait I did earlier this year. These girls are great and I love the gappy teeth look 😉
This picture is not for sale as it was a commission. If you are interested in a commission please do get in touch. Thanks.