William is a warm, likeable, quietly confident young man who, as I finished this portrait, was celebrating his 18th birthday and completing his A levels.
I had painted his sister, Catriona, 18 months previously – one of my favourite portraits. Now I wanted to paint an equally good portrait of William that would stand on its own, work as a pair with and be as good as Catriona’s. No pressure then! (The pressure was entirely self-imposed it has to be said.)
William’s mother had sent me a very long list of adjectives describing her son (edited list below) so I knew what to expect when he turned up.
- cool, calm and collected
- a charmer
- enjoys challenge
- quietly confident
Sitting the other side of the lens and looking engaged and interested in a natural manner while being “papped” by someone you have never met before is quite a big ask of an 18 year old boy but William was most amenable and it wasn’t that hard finding a pose and expression that encapsulated this delightful young man.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole commission, just as I did the portrait of his sister Catriona. And I am delighted with the result.
“We are blown away, tears in the eyes, overcome with how brilliant your portrait is – thank you SO MUCH! You really have captured him perfectly and have got that totally engaging look of his so perfectly. Thank you, thank you, thank you. How lucky we are to have such a wonderful pair (of portraits and children!!).” Fiona A-M.
The Two Portraits
I kept Catriona’s portrait with me in the studio while I worked on William so that I could ensure the same scale and palette and therefore have a nice continuity between the two even though they would not be hung side by side.
My framer and I have worked very closely together to find the best framing solutions for my portraits. For the oil portraits, since I work mostly on board, I like the effect of a floating frame. This gives the portrait space and authority whilst still keeping the informality by making a feature of the slightly imperfect edges. The moulding is chosen to reflect the character of the sitter and style of the painting, and then painted in a neutral colour that enhances the colours within the portrait.
Good Age to Paint
There is something so exciting about painting people at cusp ages. I painted my children at 4 just before starting school, 11 just before secondary school (and adolescence), and I shall paint them both at this golden age, 18, just before they leave home.