George Emlaw

Upon entering George's farm (winter).

Pictured above is my final painted version of what I saw when I first pulled up to George's farm back in January. I immediately stopped the van and took a few shots to turn into a panorama later on, thinking of it as simply adding to my collection of local farmscapes. Little did I know at the time that this would be an integral element of George's portrait. You can kind of see it sketched-in in the last photo in this post, and you can also see why I added it; although George's head takes up about half of the canvas, that would leave the other half being just his shirt --and that would be boring, so I incorporated this scene of the farm entrance.

George has been farming all his life (formerly dairy, now crops) and his grandchildren are the 9th generation of his family in South Marysburgh. Vicki Emlaw, also in the Field to Canvas series, is George's daughter.

Seen up close, this detail could be an abstract painting.

I tried a slightly different approach with certain areas of his face, painting loosely, which looks pretty neat when cropped.

One window to George's soul.

But I did still have to capture his likeness, so some tight rendering was required as well. But not too tight; click on the sparkle in his eye and check out those patches of colour!

George has fantastic hair.

Getting his likeness was one thing, making sure his fantastic hair looked fantastic was an absolute must.

More abstraction in the details.

This area is what's covered up by the crook of my elbow in the photo below --in other words: his mouth. When I was adjusting the lights around George for my reference photos inside his home, George's wife, Sandra, kept urging him to smile. "I am smiling, " he replied. When I showed them the finished painting a few weeks ago, he said, "I should have smiled for this." Then I reminded him that he said he  was smiling at the time. I did get a couple of shots of George actually smiling, but I think him not smiling, seated in repose like this, makes for a much stronger portrait.

Me painting George at Small Pond Southwest.
Somebody replaced my torso with a sack o' firewood.

This portrait of George was one of three I took with me on our trip to Arizona this winter. I had seen the call for submissions for the biennial Kingston Prize for Canadian Portraiture and knew that I'd be choosing one from this series as my entry. Even very early on, though, while still in the south, and with only a few paintings in the series completed, I knew that my painting of George was going to be the one I would enter. I'll find out if we've been selected to be in the exhibition some time in July [UPDATE: my portrait of George didn't make it into this show].

UPDATE: This painting is now sold.

For the full version of this painting, click HERE. 


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