Friday, 18 May 2012

Portrait Commission: the planning stage

After the whirlwind of the London show subsided, I started my work in earnest on my new portrait commission of a lovely lady called Katie, of Miss Katie Cupcake in Edinburgh.
My brief was to portray her as a demure and vintage style damsel, featuring her favourite things, such as a fabulous black jet necklace, a fur stole and of course, one of my granny's teacups that she fell in love with.

Study of Katie with teacup, charcoal on paper

The first stage in a portrait commission is to meet the sitter and take photographs for the poses, but also at least one drawing from life. This sketch only takes about 20 minutes, but gives me a chance to study the sitter's face a little closer and understand how that person looks in 3 dimensions. This experience really helps when being left with the flat reference photos in the studio. We had a lot of fun with the photos, but I never post these up, as I am a terrible photographer!

Study of Katie in sepia, done from a live sitting.

The next stage is to select the best poses and make some drawn studies from these, with a view to making a rough plan of the overall composition of the final painting, and to help the client choose how they want to look.

Study of Katie with necklace, pencil on paper

Study of Katie with necklace, pencil on paper

Study of Katie with teacup, charcoal on paper

Study of Katie with teacup, charcoal on paper
I also collect together reference material for background textures and colour reference, which in Katie's case, is faded pink roses, old love letters and vintage style photographs. Not all of this will appear in the final painting, but I like to gather a feel for the direction the work will take.

A photo of the lovely things in Katie's shop, Miss Katie cupcake
 Once the sitter has chosen their favourite pose, I make a small oil study to see how colours will roughly work, and if the pose will be the most suitable.

Study of Katie, Oil on canvas, 18 x 24cm

Once this has been OK'd by the sitter, I start the fun of drawing up the composition on the full sized canvas, ready to paint. Watch this space, where I will post up the painting stage by stage.

Friday, 4 May 2012

A Brush With Burlesque

I have been neglecting this blog, but only because I have been stupidly busy with creating new work for A Brush With Burlesque show in London, organsied by Mark and Sarah Bell of Kinky & Quirky productions.
Originally the exhbition was to be 6 artists, but as there are so few outlets for showing burlesque inspired art, the number of people involved grew to 12 in total. Mark himself was also showing 8 stunning portraits of his favourite performers, dancing in the setting of his own club nights.

I deliberated over what to send, but practicality won out and I sent a selection of smaller works alongside 3 key larger pieces. One of these was my brand new portrait of Daiquiri Dusk, which I have named Popcorn & Corsets, after the theme of her act.

Popcorn & Corsets, Oil on canvas, 60 x 80cm

 I had been feeling for some time that my work had taken a dark turn and I had lost all my love of colour that I once had. Perhaps it was the greyness of the Glasgow weather, or the current fashion in Scottish figure painting for realistic, limited palette work that had influenced me. But moving into a new light filled studio in the city centre, I was inspired to try something more vibrant, and less safe. I am very pleased with the final painting, but it is very much a starting point for a new line of work I am embarking on.

Me posing with my paintings, wearing my Vivienne of Holloway dress

Cherry Shakewell and Vicky Butterfly have a chat in front of my work
Here is a shot of the press opening night in full swing. There were many folks from the burlesque royalty, including one of my favourite models, Beatrix Von Bourbon of BGT fame and Vivienne of Holloway, who makes such fabulous dresses!

The show is open for just over another week, until 13th May 2012 as part of the London Burlesque Festival, so pop along if you can.

A Brush with Burlesque
The East Gallery
Brick Lane, London