This is a group portrait commissioned by Michael as a gift to his children and grandchildren. Pictured are his late wife and five grandkids. It has taken me an awfully long time to paint. I usually underestimate time needed which means deadlines come and go on a regular basis. Douglas Adams said “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound as they fly by”. But I watched three deadlines whizz past during this one. I completely mistook the sheer amount of content here.
Photo shoot – this was tricky just for the fact that the kids were young. I kept clicking the shutter through the wee dramas and trusted I got good poses from each, although in different frames.
I was given a photo of gran to make a place for her in the group. Michael sat on the sofa for me to try and get a reaction from any of the children and luckily the boy far left looked over to grandpa.
The boy second left has just lost his bottle of juice and reaches out to get it back. I like the sense of activity this adds to the picture.
Serendipity came into play where I have gran and baby sitting beside one another. The baby’s hand rests on gran’s arm which gives the pair a convincing togetherness.Also, lucky to have a pic of gran turning to her right and first boy looking over. It helps close the group at both ends. The choices and composition is worked out on paint shop pro until I am sure I have everything in place and have nothing to guess over.
I started with a drawing to plan the scaling and positioning. Glad of this, as a couple of things showed up as mistakes before committing to canvas.
I was concerned about colour matching gran to the lighting in the room. Gran’s photo was taken in a photographers studio and the light was so different, almost pure white. Gradual adjustment of the paint colour towards the yellow light of the room took a bit of work.
I could go on with things I found difficult; shirt stripes, shadows, hands, teeth… but then, it shouldn’t be easy, should it?
To get to the endgame, of a painting this complex, was more labour than finesse. Enormous relief that I have brought it to a finished state that I am pleased with, albeit with a few deadlines littering the way.