In doing portraits I am often asked to do someone or some creature who is no longer with us. Passed away, passed over or just plain died. My darling late and very funny husband would have said “popped their clogs” I’ve been feeling very drawn to finish the portrait of my lovely Colin who died at the beginning of the pandemic.
Why paint a portrait when a photo would do…surely? But no because the artist, if they’re worth anything, will immerse themselves not just in the look but also the feel, the energy and …something hard to put your finger on. Maybe we can get a bit closer to the essence of a person or creature if we as artists are good enough. Maybe we can capture things the photo simply can’t.
Colin was a funny, clever man and I adore him (present tense because I will adore him until the day I “pop my clogs”). Working on his portrait was strangely comforting. It was as if I could hear him commenting as he did frequently when I was working. He was a very straightforward man and he made me laugh everyday I was lucky enough to be with him. It’s quite a magical act creating a face more so when you love that face. So finishing his portrait became a pleasure and a delight I found myself smiling a lot. Every stroke was an act of love.
Working on other faces of those no longer here has turned out to be quite uplifting – a sort of celebration of a life and a love. Portrait commissions are often asked for out of love and it’s great to see the expressions of those who commissioned the portrait when they see the finished product. Mind you showing the finished work is always a bit of a “gulp” moment…what if they don’t like it….what if…..what if…..! So far so good but I never take reactions for granted and always enter into the work with complete concentration….that’s what I do with all art work though and maybe that’s what makes it so beneficial for me. It’s a place to immerse myself, to loose myself, to focus outside for a wee bit.
Colin’s portrait is for me. To see his darling face and have a cry ….yes, and also to smile and sense his love.