My Thoughts About Portraiture
A good portrait is a wonderful celebration of a person’s life as they are now. Becoming more and more loved as time passes, they become treasured family heirlooms and are the visual legacy of a valued life.
I love portraits and I feel privileged to be able to paint them. Although I study the work and the techniques of the great masters and continue to learn, I am very much my own artist with my own style.
The painters who inspire me such as Rembrandt, William Nicholson and Lucian Freud, create superb likenesses showing an insight into individual personalities, and a real feeling of life in their work. This is what I demand of myself.
A good likeness is fundamentally important, but it is not enough. I design my work incorporating the unique way that people hold themselves. So that in the same way as you can recognise a loved one in the far distance by their walk, I want you to be able to see them as entirely familiar in the portraits I paint.
There is an extraordinary and tangible moment that takes place in my studio when I am alone that I used to find unnerving. At a certain point in the painting of a face it will suddenly seem to fill with life. From this moment he portrait has not only taken on the visual likeness, but the whole personality of the sitter has been channelled through my brush and is there on the canvas. This phenomenon is so utterly joyous that when it happens I usually whack up the music and dance around the studio – it’s the reason I paint portraits.