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Journal | Marina Kim Portraiture | Portraits provide a permanent visual reminder of the ties between the generations of your family, expressing the emotional connection between you, your ancestors and your descendants. Long after photographs have faded, portraits remain. | Page 2

Children Portraits

Portrait of Catherine and Rebecca or "Hide and Seek".
Portrait of Catherine and Rebecca or “Hide and Seek”

Sisters Catherine and Rebecca, playing “Hide and Seek” in their garden.

This portrait was painted in acrylic, from a series of photographs which I took on a Summer afternoon in the garden of Redmaynes’ home. The finished portrait measures 150x100cm.

The process of working on a portrait commission like this is a complex one. It starts with a discussion between me and the family commissioning the painting about their wishes for the portrait, perhaps certain ideas they have formed, wether life sittings are possible or we need to make an appointment for a photo-session. On this meeting we also discuss size and price.

Next meeting with Redmaynes was a photo-session at their home. It was a glorious August day, and the garden looked splendid. So, after a couple of pencil sketches indoors, we went out to see what we could see. Girls were showing me around and I was taking photos on my little digital camera.

For my purpose, I need not a sophisticated tool, but a fast and light one. The quality of the images is not an issue. All I need is to capture the essence of a person, preferably in motion and unaware. Especially with children, I am most interested in expressing the untainted freshness of a child, the sincere joy of living. That’s why I prefer to take photographs outdoors, while they play, so that I can catch them when not posing for the camera.

Catherine and Rebecca, at the time when the photographs were taken, were exactly the age when they could still easily loose themselves in a game and not be self-conscious in front of a stranger (me). Being on their own turf, of course, helped. And the wonderful weather too!

Having spent a couple of hours with the girls, and taken around 400 photographs, I left to process the material. This is the next stage.

I spend time working with the photos: looking for the most characteristic and engaging expressions of each person, thinking of a composition to make it a believable narrative, looking for the best setting for the story. I made a couple of composition mock-ups and emailed them to Redmaynes to mull over and give me their feedback.

At this stage, I want the commissioners to tell me if I am on the right path. Also, as I work with the photos, the images I get are only glimpses. Quite different to life sittings where the sitter and I spend some hours in conversation – more time to get to know my subject. So, with photos, I need the sitters to tell me which images capture them in the most true way (or rather the way they like the most :-)).

After a short exchange of emails, we settled on a compositions, size and final price of the portrait, and I could make a start on it.

A portrait of this size and detail takes me at the least 3 months to paint, if there are no other concurrent obligations.

The day came when the Redmaynes came to see the finished portrait and it was a success! They commissioned the frame as weel, which made the size of the painting even bigger. Fortunately that was alright, as they decided to move house to accomodate the painting.


A Year Worth of Portraits

It’s been a long time since I updated my portrait portfolio, mostly because I was painting them. (Amazing, how hard I find to switch from one activity to another, yet switching is something I am compelled to do all the time…)

So, here is a year worth of portrait commissions pushed into one blog post.
(Click on images to go to their stories)

Portrait of Catherine and Rebecca Redmayne by Marina Kim
Catherine and Rebecca
Portrait of Mia and Emmie Pavey by Marina Kim
Mia and Emmie
Portrait of Jean Floyd by Marina Kim
Portrait of Jean Floyd

Commission a portrait by Marina KimCommission Portrait by Marina Kim

Commission a portrait by Marina Kim

Portrait Exchange with John Izod

Browsing the Internet I re-visited the Portrait Party site. That reminded me of a portrait exchange we had with John Izod of Rye.

Commission a portrait by Marina Kim.
John Izod

John was one of the first people we got to know when moved to Rye. Since then we came to realise that he became in a way a feature of the town. Drawing from our conversation during sittings, I see him as a bit of a gypsy, artistic wonderer, an aged child…

The idea was to draw him and sell that on a charity auction for the Sea Cadets whom he supports. That charcoal drawing of him is now hanging in the “Ypres” pub in Rye after having raised £250 as far as I remember.

But there were more drawings coming from those couple of sittings.


Commission a portrait drawing by Marina Kim.
John Izod

One of them, an ink drawing of John, I turned into a drypoint print “The Devil You Know?”

I love drypoint because it is the most immediate of the printmaking techniques and closest to free hand drawing.

I am still to break through the intimidation of the metal and draw directly on the plate. At the moment I mostly copy my drawings to the plate and then re-trace the lines with the steel point… Freedom isn’t easy.

John IS easy though. On the second day of the sittings he came armed and said, he’d be drawing me. Here are a couple of drawings he did of me:

Me by John Izod. Portrait exchange. Me by John 1
Me by John Izod. Portrait exchange.
Me by John 2?

Young Children Portrait Drawings

Last week I had portrait drawings commissioned. There is a nice continuity to it – a little more than a year ago I drew the older child, Isobel, who at the time was a tiny baby. And now I met her again (big change!) together with her little brother Sam. I hope I get to draw or paint them again some time in the future, to keep the record going!

Isobel turned into a very bubbly and bright young lady and baby Sam was sweet. He couldn’t quite decide whether to trust me or not, one minute giving me a lovely big smile and the other – urgently needing the reassurance from the mummy.

One and a half hours for the session, and drawing the two children, I relied on the television to have them slightly more stationary than it would have been without it. My plan worked. As a result, I had about 12 drawings, half of which were rather nice, all done while they watched the “Beauty and the Beast”.

I love drawing young children, and regret that I didn’t do more drawings of my children when they were younger. Now they are too aware of being looked at.

Georgina, mummy of Isobel and Sam, kindly let me use their images for creating original prints. Two of the drawings from the first series, of baby Isobel, are now drypoint prints: “Asleep” and “Flat Out”. I am hoping to have new drypoint prints done in the near future, based on the new sketches of both children.

Dear Georgina, thank you for the beautiful models! I’ll be sending the new prints as soon as they are ready. Souvenirs for the grandparents 🙂

Portrait Drawing Session

Portrait sketches of baby Isobel. Example of a portrait commission resulting in a portfolio of quick drawings.

This portrait commission requires a life sitting and takes between 1.5 to 2 hours. Although the term “sitting” is used here rather loosely.

I had several portrait commissions where I had to draw children. Of course, I couldn’t expect them to be sitting absolutely still! Here is a post about one such commission.

Faces Everywhere…

Funny how things get connected these days through thin invisible digital threads…

An artist came to the gallery today => I posted a link to his work => Someone “liked” my post => I went to see their blog => that reminded me of a drawing which happened long time ago…

That drawing “happened”. One of my daughters (don’t remember now which one of them) made a little doodle with watercolours on  the back of one of my rejected prints. A charming toddler’s doodle. The ease, the precision, the confidence of naivety.

And, as usual, I saw a face in it. To make it more even more obvious I very lightly touched the drawing to add eyes, nose, lips.

I wish things “happened” more often.

…And then I go on to see what more that Someone-who-“liked”-me has to show, and he has this:

Everything is connected. Things do happen. And I imagine that I know and notice. And that should be enough.

Art and Information

Portrait of an Artist (Photographer Paul Hewitt. )
Portrait of an Artist. Collage

I have the ability to grasp the likeness. I guess, it is like a musical ear. One can be taught to draw people, as well as play music. Beyond the skill it’s down to some undefinable magic which makes the whole difference.

What makes a portrait so appealing? Is it a thirst to know more about human kind? How people’s inner-selves correspond to their looks? Or the geography of the human face and the diversity of it? The ethnography. The sociology. The history. One comes to realise how much information can be drawn from an appearance, and therefore through a portrait.

I remember reading some literary critic writing on A.S.Pushkin. What struck me most in that article was that Pushkin’s works were very informatively dense. Every word counted. Interesting. Information is the key to a successful art(or any other)work. Information is God. Isn’t the Art itself information? Or everything is?..

A portrait is a good piece of art, if it manages to covey as much information as possible about the sitter. Even better, if it does it without being too literal. The information readable on the level of emotions rather than brain. How does one achieve it?

Portraits provide a permanent visual reminder of the ties between the generations of your family, expressing the emotional connection between you, your ancestors and your descendants. Long after photographs have faded, portraits remain.