Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Here's one of those unbelievable-but-true stories that internet communication occasionally, or maybe frequently (what do I know?) engenders. 

Out of the blue cybersphere I got an email the other day from someone whose name I recognised though I had only met him once in 1981 for an hour or so while I was painting his portrait at the house of a friend. In his email (he found me via my website) he reminded me of the portrait and wondered if I'd ever finished it.
Of course I remembered and I replied, confessing that not only did I not finish the portrait but when I ran out of canvas some years later, painted over it. I also remembered that I had taken a snapshot of both sitter and work in progress. 

Immediately I found the rather blurred and discoloured photo, scanned it, enlarged it, and kicked myself repeatedly: the painting had been a good start, a promising portrait, and it was a stupid fool idiot thing to destroy it in order to recycle the canvas. Economy and indigence are no excuse.

I apologised to Rennie Walker (he was the sitter) and in a sudden burst of contrite energy, assisted by Photoshop, I extracted his portrait from the snapshot and started working on it with virtual brushes on my graphic tablet. When in the wee hours of the morning (as is my wont) I was satisfied with the result, I sent it to Rennie along with a scan of the original photo. Below you can see both.

My thanks to that giant multi-faceted internettish god who makes such unexpected serendipitousness possible to have re-introduced me to the extremely talented Rennie, whose websites, poetic and professional, you must definitely visit.



Dominic Rivron said...

I have a portrait in our attic painted by my father when he was alive. I've no idea who it is!

Perhaps I should look into it.

Another local artist (Piers Browne) painted my father sat in a studio, with a nude model standing in the background (it's called "The Artist and his Model"). After my father died (nearly two decades ago now) I found a drawing he did of obviously the same model. I've hung them side by side.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dominic, that's very interesting. Maybe you could do a Google search for Piers Browne (or contact him personally if he's still around) and ask if he knows who the sitter of the portrait was?