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Unveiling Stuart in all his glory

 Here it is then, in all its technicolour glory!

Stuart’s pride and joy, and mine as well.

As I explained in the last blog post its been a complex image to create, to bring all the aspects that we had agreed would be in the picture together, for them to interact and be of equal import. A naked Stuart, of course being the main focal point, standing there quite naturally in the nude as if it was something he did on a regular basis, and he and I know that he does not. So, I’m pleased at how natural he looks, and I know that is in part because he’s relaxed around me as I’m so used to drawing people in the nude and he’s fully aware of that and I don’t act any differently with him whether he’s nude or fully dressed, and that ensures he feels comfortable in either state, too. I wanted the expression on his face to look quite neutral. Neither smiling (which would look certainly look more  like *smirking in a self satisfied sort of way* when he’s naked) or looking serious (so why’she got that grim look on his face when he’s standing there in the nude isn’t he enjoying it?), no, pleasantlyneutral it had to be, to make the picture work. The rest of the picture is built around him – the English country garden setting with birdbath and box hedging  is on the whole the one he and his wife created 25 years ago, mostly from scratch, and filled with glorious scented roses and climbing clematis, vibrant camellias and vermillion fuchsias. So, it was important for me to put in some of those, to show his love of gardening, along with the secateurs (a sigh of relief from all involved when you realise the secateurs are innocent garden implements and not meant for any malicious intent other than towards deadheading a few roses!). His wife, who is depicted working in the garden, a book in her hand indicating that she is as knowledgeable as he is on their love of gardening, and Stuart too has knowledge at his feet in the form of the books. The cricket stumps, bat and airborne ball show his love for the game (well, someone’s got to like it! 🙂 ) as well as the musical notes dancing along through the air, showing his love for classical music.  The two apples represent the greengrocers shop that he and his wife ran for three years as well as being his favourite fruit.  The formal writing pen with its dual black lines of flowing ink depicts the fact he is a prolific writer and has been published in various local publications. There is also a line of numbers illustrating partly his mathematical brain but also the fact he has worked in clerical jobs – the slight joke showing that the numbers are following on from the branch of the tree above him – a visual pun on “branch of mathematics” ! Also, there are bookmaking odds for the time he spent working for a bookmaker, and of course there are seven of those, as seven is deemed to be lucky for some (usually the bookie, and not the poor punter!). Also within the tree branch is a pound sign £ showing that he has worked directly with money for most of his life – particularly in the bookmaking business taking and placing large bets, and for when he did payroll in other office work. Ah yes, and the large round disc in the foreground, with the circular legend ADSHEAD on it relates to the bookmakers name he started work with after leaving grammar school, and had fifteen good long years working for before changing career, and also, my name, the same surname Adshead but no relation whatsoever, because I also have had an impact on Stuart, opening up a new facet to his character later on in life, and giving him new found freedoms to display himself via the artwork I’ve done of him. But art does that, and I know that it can be a wonderfully uplifting therapy for those who discover the delights of posing for it. So the circle of ADSHEAD relates to two large influences on his life, at different times of his life, but equally of strong importance. And incase you’re thinking I’m being big-headed to put my name in it in such a presumptuous manner, it was something he asked for, not something I decided on.

The painting is done in watercolours, that most unforgiving of mediums, that leaves very little room for error (and then only for those who know the tricks of adjusting those little errors if need be so that they aren’t obvious to the viewer). I know that the only way to ensure that there is little room for error is to get the drawing spot on to start with, which is why the drawing and layout took four hours for this painting alone. After that I had to ensure that I got the lights in the right place in the picture, so I used masking fluid to that effect, for the lightest parts of the picture, and particular the flower heads, the musical ribbon flowing over the circle of Adshead, the apples, and pen, the numbers, bookmakers betting odds, books, cricket bat and stumps, his wife, the sun dial and some of the foliage, leaving the rest  for the paint to flow over and around, filling the spaces as the painting filled up. I painted Stuart first to make sure I got the most important part done, and all the tones correct to show his body shape and form. Thenon to the rest – I only had a vague idea of the colours of some of the parts of the painting, particularly the garden, the pretty pink rose like a bower above Stuarts head, the box hedging, and background to the garden. I knew they would all be green, but found variations within those verdant shades using veridian, green gold, sap green, and adding French ultramarine and Payne’s grey for the darkest greens. I usually paint all the background in one go, but didn’t with this painting, as it developed and the colours came to me, I wanted pale cerulean blue for the sky through the dark green leaves, and soft light green gold  for the grass at Stuarts feet, always keeping an eye to the balance of the painting, the maroon of the pen echoing the maroon in one of the books at his feet, the blue of his wife’s shirt and top echoing another of the books, and red for the third uppermost book, along with the red of the cricket ball ensuring the eye went there contrasting against the full greens of the rest of the painting, making the vibrant contrast and calling the eye to look closer. And also aware that within the drawing, the line of the branches bring the eye back to Stuart, the musical ribbon is flowing away from him but also flowing around to him, his wife’s body is bending towards him, the pen, and cricket bat are angled towards him,  and the secateurs are pointing at the books, indicating his love of gardening amongst many other things. As they all were painted in, the areas of paper that were left were slowly filled in, creating a harmony within the work, and pulling all the aspects of it together as a visual whole, with movement within as the eye flows around the picture, and takes in the items within it, some hidden, some less so.

When I took the picture to Stuart, he had no idea what it would look like. Although it was exactly the same layout as the brief thumbnail sketch I’d shown him a few weeks ago when he discussed it, it was difficult for him (or anyone else for that matter!) to know what was in my head and how it would all turn out, and pull together. “Lets see it then” he said indicating the package I’d carried in after we’d exchanged pleasantries. I unwrapped it, so that he could see it, he stood back to drink it in, and I sat back and let him have a quiet few minutes to view it, then gently explained all the items in the picture, picking them out one by one, to show what they were and how they were included. He nodded, we’d had some long and involved conversations about this before over a two visits to his house. He told me how pleased he was with it, then came over to hug me, he was so happy with it, and we sat contemplating it, both of us pleased with the piece of art we had created between us, artist and client. He knew it was through my listening to him and what he wanted that I had created the picture he wanted, this celebration of his life, his loves, his passions, and lively character. I explained that I’d called it “Stuart Haywood baring all at 75” as not only was he baring his body, he was baring a large part of his past life as well.

 I sat and chatted with him and his wife, partaking of  hot tea and crisp ginger biscuits, our eyes kept returning to the painting, and whilst there I helped him hang it as he was keen to have it on the wall to view it better. We both stood back to admire it,  both of us loving where he had placed it near the window. And again, when it was time to go, he walked me to my car and said again how much he loved the picture.

And yesterday he rang just to inform me that it was *Magnificent!*.

And today he rang to tell me he was *Joyful!* over it. Aw, I’m soooooo pleased. Pleased that he’s happy, because a happy client makes me happy. Pleased that I did exactly as he asked for me in this very personalised, bespoke, designed specifically for him by me painting. Pleased because I’d gone to all the trouble I had to get it right for him. Pleased at the work and skill that had gone into it. And pleased that I had done a good job. 

He’d asked for a painting I was proud of, and that is what he got.  

 When he rang today, during the “magnificent conversation”, he mentioned in passing that he loved the way he could view the garden that was so special to him via the painting, and liked the bright colours of it, and I chuckled, and said that it was because I knew he likes bright colours, because he is ebullient, and full of life, the painting should convey his colourful personality. I could have easily toned it down but he’s not a muted sort of person, he’s bright, cheerful and colourful, so the painting should be too! It is an extension of him, of his life, of his life force.  

We both love it.

But, what do you think of it?

44 thoughts on “Unveiling Stuart in all his glory”

  1. I like it too! Two thoughts stand out. First, this is such an ambitious subject, summarizing a man’s full life in a single frame. Usually, as you know, portraits depict a single scene at a single time, from which aspects of the subject’s character can be inferred, but what you’ve done is to compress years of reality into the frame’s borders, weaving symbols and from-life elements into a cohesive whole. This makes the painting far more interesting for the viewer to look at, and to find and interpret all the symbols (something I know you love to do). Second, the painting successfully detaches Stuart’s nudity from his sexuality . . . the nudity seems quite natural, as if he went about his gardening and other activities that way without eliciting a single stunned stare or comment, and not a symbol of something else. The way it should be for those who choose to live parts of their lives that way.

    1. Hardin – I’m delighted to hear you like it, as I always value your considered opinion. I found it reasonably easy to summarise Stuarts life in the one painting once I knew what needed to be put within the painting, and I know that even people who don’t know Stuart would find the symbols and images within it of some interest, even if they may not fully understand them without some verbal explanation. So it should be a lot more fun and intriguing than just a simple portrait, and you seem to think it is, which is gratifying to hear!

      And that’s an interesting comment you make about nudity and sexualtiy being detached from each other – as indeed they are, as I fully know. This painting is not supposed to be sexual, although it is aware of Stuarts sexuality, its not enhancing it (like an erotic painting would do) but accepting that he is happy within his own skin, and happy to show the world that fact. Natural and at ease, as naturism should be.

  2. Dear Jackie,
    The image you have created is so vibrant I am overwhelmed with it’s joyessness.
    The watercolour has exceeded my wildest dreams.
    I only hope many people enjoy it as much as I enjoyed collaborating in producing it.
    From the bottom of my heart I thank you for something I will treasure for ever!
    But what about my pension book and embrocation?
    Another triumph,Jackie
    Stuart[permanent fan]

    1. Stuart – I love the fact that the painting is full of joy, and that I have conveyed that element for you, as you have a joy of life and I wanted to incorporate that delightful richness of character within the painting. I will be interested to hear the responses that come in regarding it, since its such a unique painting, and whether others do enjoy it as much as you hope for – its a personal journey for you that you are more than happy to share with others, which is an admirable quality I think.

      It’s been my pleasure to create it for you, and am really delighted that it makes you so happy.

      As for the pension book and embrocation, I’ll have to slip them in behind a bush maybe……

  3. Hi Jackie
    I just want to say -congratulations on the way you have captured Stuart -life in you painting.
    I have know Stuart and his wife Rhona for well over 15 years -but must confess I have nevr seen him with more that the top button of his shirt undone so to see him in all “his glorie” was a suprise. But was not offended by the picture as its been done in a very artistic way- I am aware this was something that Stuart has wanted to do for sometime and I admire a man of his age for doing it
    But I am impressed by the way you have incorporated their lives within the picture. Congratulations
    Regards Jan

    1. Jan – Welcome, and thankyou for your kind comments! If you’ve known them for so long, I can understand your surprise at the painting revealing a lot more than you’ve probably ever seen before, but it was my intention for the painting to be revealing but not shocking for anyone to view.

      Like you, I admire Stuart for wanting to do it, and particularly at his age.

      And I’m really happy to hear that you like the way I’ve incorporated their lives within the picture, thankyou!

  4. Great post! It always amaze me how people can take time to write them. But to be honest maybe you should change the color of the texts? Sorry if I am being rude, just trying to help. Kind regards, Sophia

    1. Sophia – Thankyou glad you like the post. As a matter of interest what’s the problem you’re having with the text colours? I’d like to know and will adjust them if I can if it helps to read them better.

  5. Stuart looks so young and virile in this picture.!

    Such a clever amalgamation of all aspects of his life. I love the colour and vibrancy too.

    1. Gillian – Welcome, and thanks, I’m sure Stuart will be delighted to hear he looks young and virile! I’m delighted you love the amalgamation of all the aspects of his life within the picture and the choice of strong and vibrant colours too.

  6. I adore this, Jackie! I spent a long time looking at and exploring the painting, before I returned to read your post – and then finding that you explained in your post the reason for everything in the painting made it so much more special 🙂

    Stuart, you commissioned (and received) something very special indeed.

    xx Dee

    1. Curvaceous Dee – Awww, thankyou! I’m so glad you love it so much, and enjoyed looking at all within the painting even though you don’t know Stuart, you still found it interesting. And I’m pleased too that my explantion in the text made it more special when you had a better understanding of it!

      Am soooo pleased you like it!

  7. Oh,gillian,how I love you,
    Young and virile,and me an old “wrinkly”.Perhaps a visit to Specsavers is called for.
    Recently I must admit that I have been “flagging” in the virility stakes.”Brewers droop”I think.
    Seriously though,I think that Jackie,ever the consummate artist,has captured the essential me to

    1. Stuart – that’s really good to know that you consider that I’ve captured the essential you and to perfection. That’s what I always hope to get within my portraits.

  8. I’m finding this all very exciting.I can’t wait for the next project.
    It’s wonderful to be part of something so stimulating and
    aesthetic with such a brilliant artist and person.

  9. Stuart – I’m so delighted you’re finding it so very exciting, that’s what it should be like when you connect your mind to an arist and their work. I love it when I have this effect on someone, it makes my job so much more worthwhile!

  10. I have known you for three years [we met initially on December 3rd. 2oo8 at your studio].I had no idea what
    a change was about to take place in my attitude to life.There is now no worry about what my friends think
    about me appearing naked before them.It is a very liberating feeling and it has taken me 75 years to
    arrive at this rewarding point in my life.Without your help and encouragement I would not have
    achieved this happy state.So confident have I become about my body that I will be visiting a nudist
    beach this summer and ,maybe,join a nudist club!
    On Friday I am addressing an august body of local dignitaries and I will consider donning raiment for that.
    Sometimes convention must be observed.
    However,for this summer,I must get my back,crack and sack tidied up.
    All this change in attitude was caused by you.


  11. Stuart – I know that in the three years we’ve known each other I have chatted with you regularly about nudity, life drawing, and confidence within body shape, and know that you have found a liberation within yourself through being drawn by me, and seeing yourself depicted in my artwork. I know its a big step for a lot of people to contact an artist to ask them to paint them in the nude, so I have a huge admiration for anyone making that step. But, I do know that they find it a wonderfully uplifting and life enhancing experience when they do do it, and you have illustrated that totally with the artwork you have asked me to create of you, and by the fact you are more than happy for your circle of friends, and the world in general via my website, to see it. But, that is because I am at ease with doing erotic art, and life drawing, and looking at naked bodies and know that I can make people feel relaxed in that environment, even when its a new experience for them. And, again, you have shown via this comment (and the accompanying phone calls we’ve had since I did this painting of you) that it has opened up new possibilities for you – to the degree that you are considering visiting a nudist beach for the first time in your life, at 75! Wow! How wonderful to have had such a positive and gratifying effect on someone to that exciting extent! I am delighted to be the catalyst!

  12. Dear Jackie,
    A friend and his wife popped in a week ago and spotted the painting.
    They were both very complimentary about it. I met his wife in town
    yesterday and she told me that it had inspired him to introduce
    a new line amongst his products.He is making “antique” brass
    What ,on the painting,would inspire him to do that?
    Any suggestions………….

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