My work is a perception of what I see, that’s all it can ever be. Exact likeness in portrait paintings is not possible, even through photography or life drawing because people’s faces are so complex and multifaceted, what portraiture does give you is one intimate moment of connection, a singular expression or emotion that is captured and laid out for all to see, after all the aim of portrait painting is to show someone’s inner self as much as their exterior appearance.
I’ve looked to develop on this idea by cropping the images and reducing the exterior appearance, confining the portrait painting to just a few features, giving it ambiguity but simultaneously allowing the person’s individual personality to shine through. The exterior became more of a focus on form and colour with photography playing a large part in both aspects.
The use of photographs are essential to my oil portrait paintings; they allow me to intensely study parts of the face that would be difficult to view close up for an extended period of time. They also enable me to play with imagery, twisting it, turning it, shrinking it or blowing it out of proportion. Cameras can capture colours in the face, which you may not be able to see with the naked eye, they can also lie to you, making additions to colour and light, and it is this relationship that interests me and one I use and embellish, exaggerating colour content and variations in the tones of the flesh.
I hardly ever find the image I want to paint straight away; my portrait paintings develop from working with imagery, playing around with it and creating from there. You can have an idea, an initial image you intend to get to, the idea of a perfect painting, but you’ll never achieve perfection, and the sheer nature of paint itself won’t let you accomplish that. As you work, things change, you have to adapt to scenarios presented before you, whether it be a mistake or an urge to try something you hadn’t previously planned on doing. I don’t believe you can, or for that matter should, have full control over what or how you paint, no matter how much you desire it.
For me, portraiture has to be one of the most interesting subjects in painting; it continually brings about new challenges, the variety of colours in the skin allows me to experiment with an expansive palette and there is always the stimulus of bringing life and character to the work. Also, through portrait commissions I am creating works of art that people will hopefully appreciate at not only an aesthetic level, but also paintings that they can cherish personally.
My work has been displayed at the National Portrait Gallery, in an exhibition called ‘Hidden Talents’ and most recently i exhibited in the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Award, winning people’s choice with my painting ‘Panda’.