Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why did you start drawing portraits?

My caricatures and portraits are quite a hit with everyone.  From drawing a bikey granny riding a Harley to a skydiving baby, I've drawn it all.

The nice thing about my caricatures is that they do not offend.  The amazing likeness I achieve in my portraits and caricatures astounds many of my clients.  I know that many visitors to my exhibition at Eumundi have had a hard time believing that the portraits are actually hand drawn.  I've had to video myself drawing just to show how I obtain my stunning results.

A surprise to many (especially those I speak to in person) is that my background is not as an artist.  I did not attend art school, I did not study art at university, nor did I study art in any other traditional sense.  I really don't know the first thing about the 'proper' way to draw and I am sure I probably break many traditional 'rules'.  All I know is that, for whatever reason, I can draw.

I am a very creative person and love attention to detail.  It is probably for these reasons that my caricatures and portraits are so highly regarded.

My portrait work started fairly recently.  I was receiving requests from many of my corporate caricature customers to draw portraits of their know the sort of thing...the traditional painted portrait that hangs in the boardroom.  I had never drawn or painted in this format before but knew that, to me, it was only an extension of what I was already doing with the caricatures...but with a lot more detail.

When I look at a photo of a person to be drawn I do not see the eyes, the beard, the nose....I see a series of lines, dots, and other marks on a canvas.  This means that what others see as an impossible task I see as a sequence of smaller tasks which contain strokes of different colours, thicknesses, opacities etc.

When I start a portrait I like to start with a black background and draw with a very light white pencil stroke.  Once the outline is completed and I am happy with the proportions I then invert the colours; my background is now white and my pencil black.

The next stage is shading.  Layer upon layer of shading, starting with fairly blocky and rough shading and gradually moving to smaller and smaller brushes with lighter and lighter effects.

I love to get the eyes drawn fairly early.  It's at this point I know if I am heading in the right direction.  As the saying goes: "the eyes are the windows to the soul"...and the eyes have a massive impact on any portrait.

The rest of the main facial features are then worked on until I have a fairly good likeness.  I layer on some rough hair to give myself a better idea of how things are working together.

From this point on it's fairly much all about the details.  Hours of brush work on the finer details, building up the amazing likeness I am renowned for.

A typical portrait can take me around 40 hours to complete.  However, it's fair to say that after about 2 to 3 hours I have a fairly good likeness.  Just have a look at my Whoopi Goldberg video on YouTube. 

This quick portrait took about 2 to 3 hours.  My portrait commissions have an incredible amount of detail but start off in pretty much the same way as the Whoopi Goldberg portrait.

Although my work is usually finished in many formats including print, canvas, mounted, framed etc I do find that a large canvas print is stunning and looks great on any wall.  I have a couple of black and white portraits hanging on my own walls at of which is Marilyn Monroe which I painted for a friend about a year ago.  View it here: Marilyn Monroe on Canvas

If you are looking for a caricature or wish to commission a portrait then please get in touch via the website at