It is exciting to be starting two new portrait projects. Both with unique challenges. I don’t mind a good art challenge, particularly if I feel confident in my ability to tackle it and apply a solution successfully, The end result can be very rewarding, not to mention the new learning that comes from the experience.
In these times of Covid 19, a difficulty for many artists, is not being able to actually get into the same room as your portrait subject and do a life study. Lucky for me I managed to get time for a quality sitting and photo shoot with a local artist here in Canberra just few weeks before the regional NSW and Canberra’s lockdowns.
With my other portrait project encompassing two subjects living in Melbourne in different locations, I had been trying since May 2021 to work out when and how was best to travel to meet with them and discuss the project in detail. I wanted to get both my Covid vaccine shots before travelling and was madly checking the covid news and airfare costs, which were astranomical at the time. My subjects (who I will name after their final portrait painting is approved by them) had to find a time in their busy work/life schedules and family commitments.
We got a date confirmed for late June and then I had to hit pause. They were also in the process of getting immunised. Finally when we had all arrived at an alternative suitable date and venue, Victoria suddently went into lockdown again. By which time, I thought to myself, this is maybe not meant to be and nearly gave up. I even emailed them apologising and suggesting we maybe wait until 2022.
A week later I read somewhere in one of the national portrait competition terms and conditions, I can’t remember which, (not the Archibald) that a Zoom sitting would be accepted. I immediately got back in touch and we arranged a photographic session date via Zoom. This turned out much better than I had expected, as the day before I learnt how to get my Zoom setting tweaked to capture the highest quality images. If you are using Zoom with your portrait subjects I highly recommend learning about this trick.
It is amazing though how much thinking goes into a portrait, for example I started planning for this portrait project early in 2021 and only last week, after the Zoom shoot and about a week of sketching and going through hundreds of images and my research notes I finally decided on a few changes to my overall composition, mood, and messages behind the theme of my project.
Once I have a project plan and have made a solid preliminary sketches, I feel confident moving forward with a project that will impel me to paint it over a sustained period. Portraits can take months to complete, so I need this. Today I’m feeling super energised, decisive and happy with progress in my studio todate. Can’t wait to get started on my next stretched linen canvas.