Father’s Day Portrait Commission
Alongside my printmaking and figurative painting, I regularly take on commissioned portrait work. I have been working with a portrait artist agent in London as well as being approached directly by clients. Either way, I love this very personal aspect of my job as portrait painter. I had recently completed a set of square head portraits of three young brothers, which inspired another client to ask me to make something similar for her two boys Reid and Ray, to create a very thoughtful gift of a Father’s Day Portrait Commission. It was only a month before the day, so it was going to be a tight turnaround!
As it was a secret (and children are not known for their secret keeping skills), I was sent a series of photographs to choose to work from (more on choosing the perfect photograph later). I chose the ones with the best expressions, clear features and good lighting. Once we had agreed the right size for the portraits, canvases were purchased from Cass Art and the process began.
First I made an underpainting in one colour, for the client Lynsey to check the composition and size of the subjects within the canvas. Once I have approval, I then start layering on colour using the best oil paints you can buy. My favourites are Michael Harding and Winsor and Newton Artist Oils, applied with a range of Rosemary’s Brushes. By using the best materials, I can ensure longevity of the artwork as well as beautiful colours that will not fade.
Once I had finished the colour layers, I sent a picture again for approval. One of the boy’s eyes were not quite dark enough, so after seeing a couple more photos, I altered them to get exactly the right shade of brown. I was also asked to add some impressionistic leaves in the background so they looked as though they were both outside, which I agree give a lively element to the final pieces.
As well making the painting, I offer a bespoke framing service, and Lynsey’s frames were constructed and stained tray frames coloured a warm mahogany wood colour to suit the portraits, and the decor of her period Glasgow house, perfectly. The paintings were ready and carefully wrapped on Friday for transport ready for the grand reveal on Sunday – Father’s Day in the UK. It was, however, not to be…they were so excited that the paintings were opened the minute they arrived home and I was sent photos of a very overjoyed dad and his excited boys.
This whole process is why I love doing portrait commissions. You have a direct link to the client and the subjects. This era of photography, where thousands of low resolution family photographs live on our computers, makes an original oil painting of your loved ones so special and timeless. I hope my paintings capture a moment in time, for that person, as well as providing a positive and exciting experience of working with me through all the stages.