Sometimes my clients request paintings that present new challenges for me – and my latest portrait project is a great example! My client Pat had a picture from his wedding that he wanted to use as the reference for a portrait he planned to give as a gift. The first challenge is that the picture was of 4 people – and previously, the most I had done in one portrait was 2 people. While I knew it would be tough to make sure that I captured the likeness of all 4 people, I was still confident I could do it. The bigger challenge, however, is that he wanted me to paint two copies of the same painting!!
The picture is of Pat and his wife on their wedding day, posed with his wife’s grandparents. Unfortunately, her grandfather became ill and passed away shortly after this picture was taken. Pat wanted 2 copies of the painting so he could give one to his wife and the other to her grandmother as a special celebration of their relationship and the grandfather’s life.
I explained that it wouldn’t be possible for the two paintings to be identical, but I felt that I could get them very close. Knowing that the 2 portraits would never be hung next to each other, Pat was more than comfortable with this, and was excited to be able to give such a special gift!
To get started, I sent Pat ideas of how I would crop the photo to make sure we captured as much as possible of the torsos while still keeping the focus on the faces. Pat liked what I proposed, which dictated a horizontal format – and we chose 12”x24” as the size that would best suit his needs. Otherwise, the only major edit was the background in the picture – which was not ideal. Instead of manufacturing a new background, we decided to go with something neutral to make sure the paintings did not look cluttered.
With these decisions made, it was on to painting the portraits! To make sure the 2 paintings looked as close as possible, I painted them piece by piece, going back and forth between the two canvases. For example, after painting the grandfather’s suit jacket in the first painting, I then painted the same jacket in the second painting. With that done, I went back to the first canvas to paint the shirt and immediately followed with the same shirt on the second painting. This helped insure that I used the same paint color mixtures and that I use the same exact technique on both canvases. I did this back and forth for every part of the painting – whether it was for the background, an outfit or a face.
In the end, I accomplished Pat’s goal of creating two almost identical portraits!
Below are pictures from the process-