Face the fear


My relationship with portraits has changed.


When it comes to the subject matter of a painting, I'd give anything a go, except faces. So, in the past, if people featured in my paintings it was usually from behind.


This was based on an assumption I couldn't do faces. And then I thought about it again. What was that based on? I'd never actually tried.


So it was the fear of the unknown and failure that had closed it off to me. But I'd never done rockets before I painted a rocket for my son and I'd never done fireworks before my daughter asked for a fireworks picture and I'd never painted horses before I created Jump. So why was this any different?


It was an idea I had in my head that faces are tricky, making them look like real faces was tricky and making them resemble actual recognisable people was not for the likes of me, but for artists who excelled in photo-realism rather than whatever abstract style you would call mine.


But these were just excuses and it was no different at all.


So it was during a chance trip to Edinburgh's National Portrait Gallery that I was inspired to take on the challenge, which subsequently sparked a change of heart. A quick self-portrait would prove it one way or the other. Nothing to lose. A canvas can be painted over, so not even at the cost of a canvas.


And then, as if fate could read my mind, a commission came in that forced my hand. It involved not only a face but three of them! Three little faces. Three children bouncing on a trampoline in a state of excitement. And so I could no longer skirt around the issue.


The self-portrait worked to my surprised satisfaction, it received an excellent reception from others, and it gave me (and the client) the confidence that my treatment of faces was not a deal-breaker. Faces are now one of my favourite subjects to paint.


And so the lesson for me here was to always take on the challenge, stare fear in the face, harness the fear of failure and turn it into an excitement for the possibilities that could await. Learn and grow.

#portraits #portraitpainting #acrylics #artist #positivity



I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela



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