Another common question I am asked. The answer is, it varies. It can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month depending on size and subject. The process begins with the idea. Sometimes I am not in the mood to paint and if I sit down and try to do something it just won’t work. I have to be in the mood to create or be inspired. These moments of inspiration come at random stages throughout the day. When I do get a good idea I write it down. I used to keep a small pad and pencil with me at all times. Now I just type my ideas into my phone so I don’t forget. I can forget an idea as quick as I can imagine one so this is very important.
The next step is to gather all the reference material I need. I always keep books of other artists work around me while I paint, checking every now again if to see what techniques they use to create various effects or emotions within their paintings. Some of these books would contain works from artists such as Sebastian Kruger and other caricature artists, and also books with work from the old masters such as Carravagio and da Vinci.
I also use books of photography and trawl the internet for images to help with the painting. Books on the human anatomy such as Anatomy For the Artist by Sarah Simblet serve as great reference material as you can see how each bone and muscle work in the body what effect this has on position of the portrait subject. The muscles of the face are also shown in these books, showing how the face moves when certain expressions are made. This is very helpful in creating expression on the subject’s face.
My studio is covered in random images that help me to paint and give me ideas and inspiration. I have always surrounded myself with the work of artists that I admire. It’s something to aspire to. To realise that you are still learning and can always improve your technique.
If I have full free day I will usually start painting at 9am and paint until 5 o’clock then maybe spend some evenings too if I feel it is necessary. I can get quite engrossed in my work and literally have to be pulled away. I always have a few paintings on the go at any one time so it is hard to give an estimate of how long it takes me to do a painting. People often ask me that question. But it is impossible to answer as each paintings different and depends how big the painting is, and how much detail is involved. So an estimate would be anywhere from a week to a month or longer. Sometimes I want to give up, because it is hard to get so much detail, such as the Johnny Cash in Black. I almost gave up, the sheer amount of effort needed for the wrinkles in his skin. But it is often the ones that are the hardest to do that turn out to be the most impressive. I always try to remember that before throwing anything out!