Portrait commission


Let’s get back into the swing of things.

Relax and before you know it, you have let it go without realising. I have let the blog drift recently into the compost corner of the garden. I will have to get my hands dirty to retrieve the thing.

In zen there is no goal or destination to struggle towards, you just do the practice. So i am practising again.

Here is a commission I completed for another christmas gift from a friend. There are a few occasions that the source material is not my own and I need, for lots of reasons, to work from small snap photographs. This was one of those. Luckily it is easier today with scanners and computers, but still, upscaling from a tiny picture also upscales the problems. This in turn forces the hand into a certain style of painting which may be no bad thing, in terms of avoiding tight photorealism, which can make things tense.

The way I get around it is by painting the planes of the head in patches of colour and tone and joining these patches a bit like a jigsaw. There is probably an optimum size of patch for best results but that can only be guessed at intuitively. (No time for large equations or algorithms here when I have a deadline to meet!) The end result surprisingly, more often than not, shows up more detail or character than the original snap.

Painted on an 8″ x 10″ board, oils.


6 thoughts on “Portrait commission

  1. You bring up a terrific point; working from someone else’s snap. Yes, the age of computers and great scanners make it possible, but not of course, the idea way to work. I think that you have bridged the gap in lack of reference information brilliantly. Sometimes/often intuition does do more than absolute reference in capturing a personality. Great point-well done.

    • Thanks Elena. In the past I would have shied away from using snaps but as I said, modern technology eases the task a bit. Also, experience helps and it makes the results that little bit more predictable. Cheers

  2. Very interesting post David, I’ve been struggling with that “drift” experience recently and your Zen words really hit home – I must just focus on my “practice”. Loved to hear how you tackled the portrait (I love noseying into how people work !).

    Thankyou for sharing, really helpful šŸ™‚

  3. Marvelously earthy, gentle and expressive. You pack a lot of character and personality into your work, and I think you’re absolutely right that in the instance of something like this it’s far more able to convey a *sense* of the person than a mere photorealist fuss would do. Lovely!

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