Fred and Daniela

Fred and Daniela.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lovely young couple. After asking them both to pose for charcoal sketches and spending some time with each of them separately, I had an idea for a larger picture; this also got me thinking about relationships and couples in painting.

I’ll be discussing three artists and the motifs dealing with the same subject matter, then talking about my images.
Frederic William Burton 1816-1900

Frederic William Burton 1816-1900

FWB’s ‘Meeting on the Turret Stairs’ is one of the most loved pictures in the National Gallery of Ireland. The subject is taken from a medieval Danish ballad translated by Burton’s friend Whitley Stokes in 1855, which tells the story of Hellelil, who fell in love with her personal guard Hildebrand, Prince of Engelland. Her father disapproved of the relationship and ordered her seven brothers to kill the young prince. Burton chose to imagine a romantic moment from the story before the terrible end: the final meeting of the two lovers. Although he never painted in oils, the intensity of hue is similar to that of an oil painting. The precise layering of watercolour reflects his early training as a miniaturist.
Blog Ready Burton-Meeting-Turret
Note the beautiful circular design with the hands and the turret keeping the the viewer’s eyes out of the corners.
Rembrandt van Rijn 1606 - 1669

Rembrandt van Rijn 1606 – 1669

Blog Ready Rembrandt_Harmensz

The Jewish Wedding is one of my favourite pictures by Rembrandt: the sensitivity in the husband’s eyes as he looks on his wife and future family. 

Blog Ready Rembrandt_-_The_Jewish_Bride_(detail)

One of the most memorable groupings and designs of hands in all art history, such a simple way of expressing commitment and love.

Great impastos, and different textures as to be expected by such a skilled painter.

Henri Martin 1860 – 1943

Henri Martin 1860 – 1943

Martin’s paintings, have great intimate quality. He was a Neo Impressionist, so he relied more on vibration of hue, rather than value, to express the idea to the viewer. Much like the Impressionists that came before him these paintings would be affected by the walls they were hung on as the value of the wall would act as part of the scale. 

Blog Ready Lovers Henri Martin

Impressionists, and later Neo Impressionists, relied on placing broken and dotted strokes of usually high saturated colour near each other in order for these hues to react and suggest nature’s play of light. 

Blog Ready -henri-martin-the-lovers

Blog Ready

His pictures have an uplifting and positivity, the high chroma helps this feeling.

Me working from a smaller sketch.

Me working from a smaller sketch.

With these two drawings, the first seeds of an idea for the later painting were sown.

Blog Ready Daniela

As you can see she has very pretty features, lots of small shifts in tone. I believe prettiness is a subtlety and handsomeness is more obvious in its structure which generally makes drawing and painting female models a longer process (especially using the sight-size technique as the handsomeness carries more at a distance).

Blog Ready FredThis drawing of the male model has a similar pose to the painting, it’s a pose I like… and makes this image much more of a mood piece than a portrait.



In my sketch books I was thinking about interchange (the way that nature shows rhythms, think of a chessboard, dark then light, dark then light etc..) background, then coat, and then the dress.

I’ve wanted to do some portraits outside for a wee time, always admired Sorolla’s fearless portrait painting in the outdoors.

I was working on a series of paintings of water at the time, so brought reflections into the image.

I discuss water and Sorolla more in

Enfold detail 2 Blog ready

With the arm and hand gestures (which I won’t go into too much as I like the painting to speak for itself) I was trying to come up with my own way of showing the love I saw the between these models.

Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.


Choose only one master — Nature.