Most commission paintings that I do are with their new owners within a few days of completion. But the one I delivered at the weekend had been with me for four months or so after I’d finished it, propped up against the wall in my studio I saw it on a daily basis. I knew the delivery date would be in mid July since Suzanne who was one half of the painting wanted it as part of her birthday celebrations. And neither she nor Mark, the other half of the painting, wanted to see it before hand. It was to be delivered wrapped in plain brown paper, and they would open it at her birthday party. Okay then, that made me both delighted in their total confidence in me, and also slightly daunted in case they didn’t like it……
But I knew I’d done the best I could. I knew that it was a good likeness of both of them. I knew I had done everything they wanted from the photo I took, and put in the background that they had requested – hazy purpleish – so on Friday the painting was wrapped in brown paper, looking inocuous and giving no clues as to its subject.
When my man and I arrived at her party on Saturday, it was in full swing, most of her guests sitting outside in the sunshine drinking and chatting, and bantering with each other. I arrived with a card and small gift for Suzanne and said with a smile “I’ve got something for you!” giving her the opportunity to say whether she wanted to wait until later when everyone had gone, or not. It was the *or not* version “Go and get it!” she said urgently, and I returned to my car to collect it.
Bringing back, and handing it over to her, telling her which was the front and which way up it was, so that she could open it up the right way. The paper was pulled off, and she looked at it, her back to the wall so no one else could see as she studied it intently and smiled as she showed her husband and then the rest of her guests with a happy smile! Phew! They both loved it! I went over and gave her a hug, and she and he both thanked me for it, and she said “You’ve got the eyes so well, and I love the background, and those are my favourite knickers!” as he grinned and hugged me and joked that he wished he’d worn his more expensive watch!
Other people came to look at the painting over the course of the party and she proudly showed it off and said “That’s going on the lounge wall!” and I smiled at her knowing that although it is a portrait of them, and they are both topless, there is actually nothing on show to upset any visitors to the house. I love the pose because of the interaction of hands, both cuddling each other, both interconnected, and aware of each other as they look at the camera. Their jewellery accentuating the pose, particularly her nipple bar which can be seen but the nipple itself can’t, the erotic aspect hinted at rather than obvious.
So here to show the stages of it, the first picture here is the working photo.
The first painting after drawing it out is the simple blocking in of the colour.
Then more depth of colour to fully cover the canvas – keeping it simple still. I actually like this version as a painting all on its own!
Then the next stage was softer colours as I concentrated on Mark first. And painted in Suzannes knickers, the pale skin showing through the sheer black material.
The slow building up of colour of his skin making sure that it was slightly darker than Suzannes.
Mark is almost finished but his face will need more refinements. The tattoos on his arms had to be put in as a soft blue against his skin.
Starting work on Suzanne now to pull the colours of each of them together. Marks jeans are painted in with a block of black behind it to make it stand out better.
The hazy purple background added then all the tiny fine tuning that makes the picture come alive, their features tweaked so that it resembles the photo more. The darker areas under arms making the picture look three dimensional.