Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Story of Smog's portrait.

I photographed Smoggy a few years ago, not with a view to a portrait, but just so his little person, Rennie, could have some photos and not feel left out, whilst I photographed Pam's horse for the real deal of a portrait. Early this year, with the cruellest twist of fate, Smoggy was taken ill suddenly, and didn't survive. I was asked to do his portrait, for the family to have the complete set of all their horses together, and went to dig out the photos. I couldn't find them on my computer, memory cards, anywhere, and neither could Pam.

Thankfully, at a show the previous year, Adrian Sinclair had taken some lovely shots of him, and very kindly allowed me to work from them. 
I drew the portrait up, went to start it and realised I'd drawn it up on the wrong side of the paper, the coarse side which doesn't allow me to work in such detail, so I turned the paper over and began again. 

It's never as easy working from photos that I need to adapt, as what makes a great photo doesn't necessarily make a great portrait reference. I just keep making marks, and walking away and coming back, and trusting that it all comes together.
It's spooky sometimes, when I'm working, I become so involved that suddenly I feel the animal there, and that came through very strongly with Smog. I was so pleased with the finished piece, and sent the image for approval. 

Then the bombshell, Pam loved it, but had I forgotten I was supposed to have done it on a black background? My heart missed a beat, and I couldn't believe I'd been so careless. However, all was well, the neutral background met with approval from Rennie, and I could breathe again. With hindsight, I genuinely believe the feel of the piece wouldn't have worked on black. Smoggy at work? Who knows!

I took the work off the easel, and got another shock, as there he was, staring out at me in outline from the backing board I work on! I'd unwittingly transferred the original outline onto the board when I'd worked the other side of the paper! 

It made me smile, because I just loved the thought of Smoggy still making his mark. 

Then the final hurdle, the suppliers had discontinued the frame I'd used for the other three horses, so I gilded and distressed a similar frame, to try and make the four portraits flow when hung together, so after much experimentation, he was finally finished, as below. 

Such a beautiful pony, inside and out. 

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