It’s been a while since I posted anything more than a new piece of work and to be honest I’m not really much of a writer and I understand next to nothing about meta-data/tagging etc and lack the enthusiasm to learn, so most of the things I do write rarely get read. That’s OK.
Today I thought I’d just share my thinking behind my current painting. I promised my wife, many times over several years, that I would paint her portrait for her and I’ve finally started. This painting has, in pretty much every way imaginable, become the most challenging piece I’ve ever undertaken and so far I’m loving every minute! IF you’ve ever had a browse through my gallery you’ll know that my paintings are typically far from figurative. I’ve always been more of an expressive and gestural painter and despite my envy of those with more precise skills I’m happy with that. I made peace with the way I work a long time ago!
In my life I’ve only ever completed one full portrait painting, of my nice when she was about 2 years old.
I’m still really proud of this piece, of course there are things I would change (looking back) but I’m happy that I caught something with a style somewhere between me and figurative.
So I’ve had one previous stab at a painted portrait and a few drawings here and there but nothing quite as ambitious as the piece I’m now working on. My wife doesn’t share my love of abstract expressionism (favouring more traditional forms of art) so I decided that she should be rendered in a style more befitting her. I chose to work from one of our wedding photos and I felt that something classical in style was required for my classically beautiful wife… and thus began months of preparation.
During my degree I focused intensely on abstract painting and whilst I learnt a little about more traditional methods and styles it’s safe to say that after almost 15 years, much of it has faded into the recesses of my brain. So I started over, researched my materials and slowly gathered them together, built my stretcher, sourced good quality linen and (for the first time ever!) sized my canvas! It took me at least 6 months to prepare the canvas, a combination of time, money, and cold weather slowing me down. Each month I use my spare cash (and one or two gratefully received gift vouchers) to buy good quality brushes and paints, researching each before hand. Everything about this painting has been a learning experience.
Today I managed to spend a significant amount of time working on the underpainting, enjoying the process and the materials (you just can’t beat oil paints!) and I’m feeling positive about the progress. I’m not sure yet what sort of finish I’m going for, in my head I had realism but I’m not sure that will ever be within my capabilities. What I can say for sure is that I’m loving every moment of it! The pressure is immense (I want my wife to be happy!) and I’m shitting myself that I will screw up the flesh tones (Alice is still very green) and ruin the painting, add a little to much here and spoil the overall shape…but I’m doing it!
It’s hard to explain to someone what it feels like, why it is you do this ‘thing’ that you do and I’m not sure I’ll ever find a way…but when you feel it, you FEEL it! A weird combination of harmony, happiness, excitement and blissful contentment radiating from somewhere inside your chest to every extremity. It’s like nothing else.