Arianna

The first portrait to be completed while following the strict diet of “white is light”, instruction on the technique courtesy of Charles Weed.

This painting was submitted to the 2018 BP National Portrait Gallery competition and the 2018 Royal Society of Portrait Painters competition; it did not make the first cut for the former, it was pre-selected for the latter, but failed to pass the second cut.

Here is the description I wrote to accompany the RSP submission:

Arianna was started in December of 2016 and completed in September of 2017 and within that time period required about 30 sittings with the model of two hours each.

It is the first painting to be completed following a significant change I made back in November of 2016 to the way I construct a painting; specifically, the deliberate construction of light and form in a high key.  Because such a process invites multiple layers of glazes and scumbles, I discovered that it also facilitates a satisfying hierarchy between areas that are built up slowly and methodically with those that are quick and intuitive, something I believe is exemplified in the final work: the solid luminous presence of the head in contrast to the loose sprezzatura that define the neck, chest and neckalce, all of which were painted during the last sitting.

With regard to the theme of this year’s exhibition, Friends, Arianna is a model I have worked with for more than three years.  In that time she has become more than a muse, but also a friend, a collaborator and, perhaps most importantly, a second eye I trust. When working with a person of such qualities, the pressure is great, but so too is the payoff, should the painting succeed.  I am very comfortable calling this portrait of her a success.  She is too.

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