‘A kind of tunnel between you looking at me and me looking back … I was very quickly interested in the relationship and how we operated together.’
‘It’s a different sort of dialogue, refreshing but uncomfortable territory.’
The dialogue in these portraits occurs in several different ways, for instance, in speech and as painting, and for different purposes. One effect of talking is to put both sitter and artist at ease with one another, but too much talking while painting can be distracting, potentially with the reverse effect. The subject or mood of a conversation may affect the painting; a sitter’s turn of phrase can inform the artist’s depiction.
I am familiar with each of these sitters. Some are family members or friends of family members. One has become familiar to me through her repeated sitting for me. Familiarity can help me relax and, I feel, leads me to make more experimental, possibly less flattering, paintings. Equally, if someone I am close to has little time to sit for me, I am aware of the temptation to flatter them to encourage them to sit again.
Painting someone sometimes feels like an act of love.