Painting a portrait of my son felt like the biggest challenge ever. I know him so well – every aspect of his character – would that make it easier or harder? I’ve drawn him a few times in pencil but never in soft pastel. I knew that if I wanted to become a professional portrait artist I had to discover for myself what it was about a pastel portrait that was more than a photograph. Why commission an artist when you can simply take a photo or hundreds of photos. This is my story and the reason I become a professional portrait artist.
A good quality photo with a great pose but poor composition can make an excellent reference for a portrait. I was photographing products for my education business in my mum’s conservatory when by chance Oliver walked in with a new t-shirt on that my mum had found in a charity shop. I loved the colours so much that i took a few photos, luckily Oliver loves having his photo taken.
The first and last shots were potential candidates for the portrait. I chose the last shot because he is not smiling – no teeth and a calm angelic pose. Teeth can often stand out in a portrait and detract from the eyes which I wanted as the main focus. This portrait would hopefully be on my wall for many years and I didn’t want a cheesy grin or jam round his cheeky chops. But what to do with the first shot?
I really wasn’t prepared for what happened next. It wasn’t until I got to paint Oliver’s eyes that the emotion started to hit me. You see, Oliver has my eyes, it felt like I was painting my eyes but they were his – momentary confusion preceded a wave of emotion as my baby boy appeared before my eyes like no photo has ever made me feel.
Here are the progress shots of the portrait that helped me discover what portraiture was all about:
I asked my friends: “What is it about a painting or drawing over a photograph?”
“I feel the same way about the portrait I have of my daughter when she was 6. There is something about it that is so wonderful…”
“You’ve really captured Oliver’s personality here which I think comes across more in Art than photos – and art can capture your emotions”
I’m so glad I decided to paint my son. I’ve drawn him a few times in pencil but oh my word I was not ready for the out pouring of emotion I experienced as I saw him appear in colour and the softness of pastels. How this has given him a soul and character that no photo has ever done. I feel that in years to come I will look at this painting and be transported back in time to when he was just 2 years old. Pass the tissues please!!
This revelation was all the encouragement I needed to pursue my lifelong ambition to become a portrait artist to be able to provide you with the opportunity to have a portrait of your loved one as a timeless treasured memory that will transport you back in time to your happiest days.
And that first shot? It’s wallpaper on my computer for now, jam and all!
Find out how to commission a portrait with me here and you are welcome to phone me for an informal chat about your portrait. Tel: 07740 282399