Saturday, 28 November 2009

A new portrait

I have recently completed the portrait if a judge. Judge B. has been a fantastic sitter, extremely keen to take part into the process and very available for life sittings.
His sons commissioned this portrait for his retirement after seeing my painting "The Russian Lady" ( read about it here )at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Show. He told me he appreciated its expression and that he chose me because of my loose style,"not too specific", he said.
We had two appointments to discuss the painting before starting. These conversations were particularly useful for me to observe him and understand what he expected. We discussed the size of the canvas and his attire, whether or not he should wear his wig. We agreed that wigs make people difficult to recognize, but that it was important to mention it.
The object itself by the way, is something I would love to paint in a still life.
I stretched some pre-primed linen and chose a format that would allow me some lateral space to include the wig.
Judge B. naturally sat leaning slightly toward his left. Because of the strong graphic impact of the robe, I believed I did not need to do much about the design. I started by placing his right eye on the vertical midline. This is an important compositional device valid since Renaissance and helps establishing the dominant eye.

I tried to keep a minimal tilt of the head. Judge B. is a phenomenal communicator and chatted amiably during our time together. I wanted to render the relaxed atmosphere of our sittings although this is a rather formal portrait. His slight smile is a very natural expression for him, which he had at all times.

I used a chromatic palette, no earth colours apart from Ivory Black, and tried to include areas of thin and thick paint. The most intensive painting activity occurs in the head and collar, while the background, chair and wig are very loosely rendered.
I am satisfied with the result and the Judge seems to be very happy about it.

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