Geraldine Thompson: My Art
For me the execution of a portrait is not self-contained, nor is it just about the technical. In portraiture, my aim is to depict a likeness, a character, a presence. This is an ability I have developed over years of life drawing. It is a demanding process, in which drawing and painting are entwined in a dialogue between sitter and painter – revealing aspects of both. It requires sensitivity to the person and personality behind each face, and being alert to changes in facial expression and body language. Meeting the sitter for that one-to-one personal connection is essential for research and initial studies. Although regular sittings are ideal, photography provides a valuable supporting reference tool, allowing portraits to be completed from a combination of sittings and photography. Portraits are usually life size in oils on linen canvas.
When painting portraits I consider:
- How the subjects present and sees themselves – which of the many faces they choose to show me
- My obligation to the sitter; my empathetic interpretive response
- Where the portrait will hang.
Careful thought is also given to connections and symbolic narrative which may be incorporated into the work. Notable past commissions include eminent members of the clergy, academic, medical and military, as well as private and informal portraits.
With regards to my love of the landscape, when drawing and painting out and about in the countryside, I’m recording sensations – an emotional and visual response to a connection to the land and to nature itself – rather than a topographical record. However, back in the studio with a combination of sketchbook studies, colour notes, plein-air paintings and/or photographs for reference, it is more about reclaiming experiences. So this involves memory, imagination, and probably some exaggeration as well, in order to emphasize those elements of impact helping to make imagery which invites interest and contemplation.
The creative process involves responding to colour transformed by light, exploring materials, mixed media, degrees of unpredictability, mixing colours on the painting surface, rather than the palette, the interconnectedness of colour, light, texture; all this – and enjoying how the paint surface itself becomes a significant vehicle of expression. In the studio environment I can also work larger or develop subject themes and work in series.
See Geraldine’s full profile at Geraldine Thompson