Sibling portraits, 15 years later

Aeons ago, when our children were at the same nursery school in Shepton Beauchamp, Tam and Dan Mason commissioned me to do pastel portraits of their children, Max and Izzie.

Fast forward 15 or so years and the ever youthful Tam – of the wonderful Tam Mason Handscrub fame – is about to turn 50. Dan commissioned me to do their portraits again, as a surprise.

The sitting was a blast. Max and Izzie, now 16 and 18, are hardly recognisable from the toddlers I met then, and have turned into very engaging and gorgeous young adults. Dan dropped them with me, having fabricated some incredibly complicated alibi so Tam didn’t suspect. And they entered into the spirit wholeheartedly.

Sibling portraits are always fun when done at the same time in that there is an extra layer to the commission – I try to capture the relationship between them as well as their individual personalities. It is also important to consider how the portraits will hang together. So, with 2 portraits they really need to be facing each other. With 3, ideally you have a left flank, a right flank and a centre piece. And so on. But at the same time, you want to get the best and most flattering angle of each sitter.

With this commission, I wanted to echo the portraits from 15 years ago, so was hoping I could have them both facing the same way they were in the original portraits, ie Izzie on the left and Max on the right. Very conveniently, this worked perfectly.

The sister

Izzie, at 15, is tall and breathtakingly beautiful, and deliciously unaware of that beauty. As a toddler, she had such an exquisite little button nose that for her first portrait I had to draw her in profile. In this second portrait, there is a little nod to that with her being very slightly angled away from the viewer. Although bright and vivacious, there is a timelessness and classic, serenity to her face. And that was what I wanted to capture. But you can still see the sparkle.

portrait of 16 year old girl

The brother

Tall, handsome, gentle, sporty and utterly charming, Max was in his last year of school when he came for the sitting. There is something rather golden about portraits done at this age – on the cusp of leaving full time education for the big wide world. It is his engaging quiet but clear-eyed confidence, that I wanted to capture.

pastel portrait of an 18 year old young man

The Siblings

Such a delightful couple of young adults, these two. Kind, well-mannered, amenable, and clearly a very close relationship with each other, a yin and yen, yet full of fun and banter. A credit to Tam and Dan.


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