Back from holidays, I'm about to start a new commission. It's a portrait of the sister of a very dear friend and it is to be a present for her 80th birthday. The dimensions of this portrait are to be significantly smaller than those of my recent pictures, so this project should be completed in a much shorter time-frame.
However, there are still some challenges to this work. Firstly, the quality of the reference photo is not too good. The picture is small and the detail is indistinct. Also, my friend would like the portrait to be brought to life with colour. I am happy to do this but it does add something to the challenge. A further issue concerns accuracy. I am not, yet, certain of the order to which this nun belongs, so I need to do some research. I will need to obtain a clearer picture of the habit of this order so that I can determine the colour and style of her clothing with more accuracy. I will, also, need to identify more closely the ornament attached to the habit. From the photo, it looks like a medal of the Sacred Heart but detail is important in my portraits, so I will need a much more finely detailed reference to work with.
These are not uncommon challenges when undertaking commissions. I am used to working from several reference photos and to making adjustments to suit the client's requirements. Usually, a client is realistic about the possibilities and it is my objective to exploit the creative potential of fine art portraiture and, at the same time, produce a personalized representation which best fits the mental image visualised by the client.