In August this year (2023) I was contacted by a client in Longford about a commission of her brother-in-law James. James sadly passed away in March 2023 from dementia at a very young age of 56. James’ brothers, my client’s husband, and his other brother based in the US, of course miss him terribly and she wanted to gift both brothers with a painted portrait of James this Christmas.
I kept the fine detail to a minimum to create and overall image of James in both portraits. The clothes in particular are painted with a larger brush and the brushstrokes are kept quite visible. This worked well at the scale I was working on I felt.
Yvonne initially hoped to use one photograph for both paintings in two different sizes. I asked her to email me some other references for detail and other angles of James’s face. It turned out she had some good photographs I could combine to create two different views of James. It was important to Yvonne, my client, to use photographs that showed him before his illness became visible in his facial expressions.
I worked at two sizes, the smaller being 45 x 35 cm, the larger 60 x 40 cm. I painted both portraits in acrylics on stretched canvas and posted them to the client unframed. The canvas I used was a fine grain surface which I find great for adding detail.
I kept the backgrounds very simple, the smaller a warmer tone of peach to harmonise with the blue jumper. In the smaller painting I adjusted James’s mouth to show a hint of a smile from another photo. He had a great happy glint in his eyes and I wanted to capture this in his portraits. Yvonne was very happy with both portraits and gifted the smaller one to her husband:
I absolutely love the portraits of James. That’s absolutely perfect I am so happy with both portraits. You are amazing at what you do. Thank you.Yvonne on seeing the scanned images of both portraits, Longford, Ireland
The larger painting shows a little more of James’s shoulders and I contrasted the warm burgundy coloured jumper with a cool blue toned backdrop. This painting travelled to the US and I am waiting for the client’s email to let me know how his brother liked it.
As with all of my portraits, I have a certain way to approach them, always starting with a line sketch in yellow ochre before moving on to colour blocking and adding detail.