Portrait of Chester by artist Simon Bland

Chester. 12x12, oil on linen panel. 2015.

This recent commission was based on some reference photos that I'd taken back in 2008. Sadly, Chester passed away unexpectedly this year.

I painted the portrait at the same time I was working on another, and having both in the studio at the same time led to some cross-fertilization of ideas between the two paintings. For example, the backgrounds have a similar design.

In the reference photos Chester was laying in grass, so I had a bit of work to do to change most of the colors in the shadow areas where the reflected light was green. I also introduced some of the background color into the shadow areas to make the picture look like a more integrated whole.

I used a gradated background to bring the viewer’s attention to the center of interest. The rapid value transition is reinforced by a corresponding warm/cool temperature shift. In places the toned canvas and under painting has been allowed to bleed through to add warmth to the blue/purple. The net result is an incredibly strong focus on Chester’s head. It’s difficult to look at this painting and not stare directly at his nose.


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