Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Evolution Of A Family Portrait.

Over the last four months or so I've been working on an interesting commission. A 36"X42" Family Portrait. 

As with any large piece almost as much time has to go into the planning as the execution. In this case there was a lot of communicating with the family. Meeting, sketching and photographing every family member, getting to know their body language and character and discussing  colour palette, mood, theme and composition.

Any portrait is always quite a collaborative process but with a large group portrait its really important to understand the dynamics and interpersonal aspects of how the subjects relate to one another. 

An early compositional sketch

preparatory sketches

It started with casual socialising and observing. Chatting to the kids, watching them interact, and of course speaking to their parents. I came up with a few ideas for a composition and we settled on semi formal poses in an outdoor setting. 

Preparatory study

With seven figures in the 
composition it was important to keep the figures working harmoniously together but also to retain their individual character. It was clear to me that everyone in the family were all quite strongly individualistic as people. But at the same time, no one would want to steal the show or outshine anyone else. 

Initial oil sketch on canvas
The family were looking for a very specific, gentle, almost pastel colour palette and mood, which was best served by light shades of rose Doré and cadmium yellow, with manganese and Cobalt blue in the shadows for a hint of a classic impressionist feeling.  

under construction
I worked in layers of transparent glazes. This technique takes some time but is really worth it , particularly for delicate colours as you can refine the tone, line and hue carefully as you go. Working from dark to light.  

colour and line becoming more refined as the painting progresses. 
At last it was finished and shipped. I think it captured something of this gentle but vibrant group of people who's love and appreciation for one another was so evident.  I hope they enjoy it for many years to come.