When a portrait is commissioned and the person is available for sittings, I take a series of photographs in the round, from above and from below. I also take measurements. These are used to construct the portrait and neither for publication or any other purpose. Ideally I prefer to work with my sitters, from life. This involves coming to my studio in North London and sitting alongside the clay portrait in progress. I am also prepared to visit my sitters if this is required and the work is transportable. A minimum of three life sittings is preferable but more is always better. Two hours for a sitting is ideal. A portrait head or bust can take from three to five months to model, depending on the amount of detail and any other commitments.
In more recent years, where portraits are made posthumously and where photo reference is often poor, it is both more challenging and time consuming to arrive at a resonant point. I research my subjects’ life in great detail and glean what I can from the available images. Video is always a bonus. It makes sense of the still image and can give clues as to facial anatomy and character.
Many people enjoy the sittings process. including me! Music and conversation is optional. It is not necessary to keep completely still as for a drawing or painting and in fact makes a more lively and complex work if not.
Bronze casting is a highly skilled, labour intensive process which takes approximately 3 months. Each piece is unique and hand-finished by me at the foundry. Patination, (that is the colouration of the bronze) is decided by whatever is best for the piece. I always work with the patinator. The colour is achieved by the application of specific chemicals, which react to the heated bronze. The desired effect is arrived at by layering these, to produce a depth and translucency. The finished piece is waxed to protect, preserve and seal the colour from handling and weather.
The preference of material for the base on which the sculpture is mounted can be discussed. The choice will depend on suitability and if it is available. This can be various stones, marble or bronze.