February 21st, 2016
Lisa wanted some significant objects to feature in her portrait, so brought a favourite lamp and her grandmother’s woollen blanket to be included in the picture.
Aspects of the colouring in this scene differ from my usual palette, which will be interesting to work with, I think. Similarly, although the composition itself is fairly simple and quiet, arranging furniture in the studio to represent a kind of domestic setting is something I’ve rarely done before, and further adds to the experimental feel of the process.
February 3rd, 2016
I last made a portrait of Tudor in 2013, as part of my Musicians series – a little monochrome panel painting, made in one sitting. Great to try something a little more ambitious this time, and on canvas.
At the next sitting the broom will be replaced with Tudor’s electric cello (which no knight should be without).
January 20th, 2016
This is a detail of a full-length portrait which has been ongoing since May 2015. At 1.7m high, it’s the largest picture I’ve ever attempted, and also the first painting I’ve made with reference only to looped video, rather than life. We knew the pose would be tricky to hold for long periods, so this has been an experiment exploring an alternative to my usual approach to portraiture.
The picture is a response to Renoir’s La Parisienne, which hangs in the National Museum of Wales. It’s modelled by a friend’s eight-year-old daughter, Hanna, who lives in Machynlleth, West Wales. Hanna did a brilliant job.
Having mistakenly thought the picture was finished in the autumn, I’m hopeful that it’s now close to completion.
December 31st, 2015
I prepare canvases in the traditional way, stretching linen over mitred stretcher bars and sealing with warm rabbit skin size. The painting surface is finished with an oil primer and then tightened, if necessary, with wooden wedges tapped into the corners.
In the past my paintings on canvas have mostly been on white grounds, though I now plan to experiment with using different coloured primers – probably grey/greens and earth colours. These canvases will be used over the coming months, and will be primed with different tints, as required.
November 22nd, 2015
This portrait began with discussions about possible poses, clothing and other practical questions which would inform how the finished portrait might look. We experimented with a few different ideas, and after Nigel sat for a small oil sketch we had a clearer idea about how to proceed on canvas – agreeing on a composition and deciding scale, and so on.
This photograph was taken at the end of Nigel’s second sitting. One or two more will be needed to complete the piece.