Child portrait commission: Else Hewage

This oil portrait of Else Hewage was commissioned by her father Tim - a professional photographer - from a selection of photographs that he provided.

Each photograph told a different story.  In one Else could be seen dressed as a witch, thrilled by a chance encounter with a black cat.  In another she was pictured in a garden. 

But the photo that most inspired me was one that caught her in childhood reverie - something that only an intimate would have been able to take unseen. 

I focused in on the rhythm of the bars of the seat behind her, as if each was leading her thoughts down an exciting new path. So I framed my portrait of her much tighter in than in he original photograph to capture this special moment.

I was lucky enough to be able to meet Else before I started work on the commission which helped me supplement the information I had from the photograph.  It gave me a change to check her temperament and  note her skin colour - and then it was over to me to provide updates digitally until the day it was completed.  

It may seem strange that Tim was keen to have a painted portrait of his daughter at this lovely stage based on his own photo.  But Tim understood the different media brought different things to the table.  Whereas his photograph had captured an intimate moment in time they had shared, he realised my portrait would encourage a slower journey, one where the viewer's eye would follow mine across every inch of the canvas, allowing it to be viewed for longer. 

A portrait in oils, as opposed to a drawn portrait, takes time to complete - normally up to six weeks - as the layers have to dry after each day’s work. I usually take a deposit at the start for materials, for large works an instalment half way through the process, and then a final payment at the end.  But if client's prefer to spread payments over a longer period, I just retain the portrait until the final instalment. 

Click here if you'd like to understand how much it will cost.

Else Hewage oils commission by Stella Tooth

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