I recently made some portraits in classic Dutch Renaissance style, mainly because I had a hankering for one myself and once I started I just couldn’t stop. Give me more brown! More gloomy faces!

I start with a sketch on the canvas and fill in the background. I wanted the particular Dutch look so I went for a lot of Van Dyck Brown, a few layers, darker at the edges. Then I work on the portrait itself, gradually building it up. Because of oil taking so long to dry I like to work on several at the same time so I always have some dry spot to tackle. And yes, my studio is far too tiny really but it shows what you can do with a small space. The paintings are leaning on my sewing machine as no sewing can happen when I paint, it is far too dusty.



The vest is my own and painted with white highlights to give shape. It looks very suitable for the period, if you disregard the centre zipper.That was the look I was after, period but definitely not.



So why the bird? No reason, other than the need for a central colour spot. Also, the early paintings often had an addition such as an animal, a flower or a bird added. There is great joy in choosing things to paint. After all, there are no limitations whatsoever apart from your time.


Here is another just past the starting line. She is wearing a headdress composed of two takeaway coffe cups and a teatowel. At least, that is what it will become. The early paintings often did little things with their hands, like religious symbolism for instance. I am going more modern, this one is doing the Shaka, the handsign for the unified people of Hawaii which later become the internationally known surfie hand. I like her bored look, very deliberate. I have seen it all and it bored me! She probably lives in Melbourne and studies art and works as a barista. Or maybe she dosn’t.



This one is of one of my neighbours, she happened to be walking past wearing a gorgeous duffel coat so I put a hankie over her head (as you do when neighbours pass) and asked her to pose. ”Just look serious,” I pleaded, and I think she did really well. Letting someone paint you is to put a lot of trust in the painter. Willl they make me look awful? Possibly. Will you be able to do a thing about it? Nope. By the way, I have no idea what happened to the green, it is not that lurid in real life.