I posted a few weeks ago about a portrait I’m working on of Richard Demarco (previous post Here )
Having made some preliminary sketches (some of these below and right), I’m taking time to develop ideas in imagination before making a final work which will be on a 30×30″ wood panel. Also to look at the work of some favourite portrait artists, including Auerbach (more on that below).
I’ve made hundreds of portraits over the years in the form of sketches, probably only three or four finished paintings though, and for this portrait there’s so much to consider. Despite Richard’s connection to the world of avant garde and mold-breaking art, I don’t plan to make it a strongly conceptual work since that’s not my usual mode these days, so it will be more about expressing my understanding through line, composition, background and so on.
The themes I keep returning to are ideas about layering, also emerging. The reason being that this reflects my understanding of Richard’s character, work and life, but it also lends itself to my usual style of painting which involves layering, scraping back and building texture. I also know that it will be monochrome, or with very little colour.
For the moment though, I don’t want to say anything about what those layering and emerging ideas will be, for the simple reason that if I’m worth my salt as an artist, those ideas will be evident or discoverable by viewers when the painting is complete! (That will be in December after I’ve completed the Winter Series)
In the meantime, I’ve also been looking at portraits, my favourites being those by Frank Auerbach. I’ve included a short video of an interview with Auerbach below (far better than me havering on about him!) He comes across here as fairly modest – likeable. In his mid 80’s now, he’s still painting …
On the left is ‘Head of E.O.W. IV’ by Auerbach, which is in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, what you can’t possibly see in reproduction here is the deep, sculptural layering of paint (though you see his paint technique clearly in the video) – the portrait changes as you change viewpoint – some people don’t even recognise it as a face.
On the right is ‘Head of Leon Kossoff’, from a private collection. (Kossoff was a friend and fellow artist). Video below paintings …