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Portrait of a Knight

Every now and then, an artist hits on something that is like gold to them. It may not have a high monetary value; it may not mean anything at all to another. But to the artist, at that moment, it is the centre of their world. How long it lasts depends on several factors, but if it is truly that moment that we all crave, it lasts an exceptionally long time indeed, if not stays with a person for life.

Sometimes it is an experience of seeing something for the very first time or being in the presence of an influential person who captures their attention and inspires greater belief in themselves.

On other times, it is something that you do which makes you think about that action or occurrence, and hopefully, on these occasions, it is something that is memorable for the right reason.

In my case, this moment recently happened when I was asked to consider painting a portrait of a child. This was not going to be the normal pose that we often see. It was a close up of a young boy wearing the helmet of a medieval knight.

He was peering through the gap, proudly playing his part in a medieval world full of youngsters, dressed in their own costumes, their individual adventures intertwining with his. The birthday celebrations were in full swing. However, he had just experienced one of those emotional party moments, and eyes welling with tears, he faced the camera.

The shot was taken, and the image was caught.

And I was asked to capture this look in traditional oil paint, to preserve that moment for it to be hung in the family home, creating an everlasting memory of that young character, emotionally caught up in the excitement and bewilderment of a child’s party, as he bravely went forth once more into battle against, fairies, unicorns and other fictitiously dressed youngsters. A memory we all know too well, and no doubt, wish we could venture back to just for one more time.

What developed on canvas over the next weeks, layer upon layer and cautiously manipulated brush strokes, was that very flashback to those times of carefree abandonment of my own exciting childhood, and the want to create a photorealistic image that would stand above and beyond the last painting I achieved.

Finally, as the knight in shining armour peered through his upturned helmet visor, a character started to look back at me. And when that happens, you as an artist know that you have captured what you intended, and at times, even more than you expected.

That moment had just occurred. Spencer, the medieval adventurer of fantasy party worlds, stood tall and proud, defiantly replacing the tears of disappointment with joyful playfulness. His childhood quest of dragons, baddies, and chocolate cake, all captured in oil on canvas in a memory forever.

The priceless moment of a family’s recollection of their little hero there for the whole world to witness.

Excitement and sentiment, the value of art and the knowledge that no matter who the character captured is, in real story terms, heroes carry their emotions for all to see with the audience willing them to overcome and succeed.

And then the request came in. A portrait of his arch enemy, his adversary, his nemesis. Yes, his cousin!

To be continued…….

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