I first encountered Patrick when he gave a brief talk at the 2014 St. Mungo’s Broadway Christmas Carol Service. His words were brief but heartfelt, hinting at a real depth of character. I met him subsequently, just after Christmas at the enrolment sessions for the Recovery College. These sessions are invariably an eye-opener, and a great opportunity for me to meet a cross-section of the Trust’s clients, some of whom become portrait subjects. The work done by the College is really quite extraordinary, and is one of those experiments the success of which is testament to the determination of so many of the Trust’s clients to get their lives back on track. The BBC did an excellent piece on it here, including an atmospheric photo of an earlier portrat subject of mine, David Lawrence. I start work on my portrait of Patrick with a simple brush drawing in thinned burnt umber, an initial attempt to get the landmarks of his face in place on canvas. Patrick #1 is anatomically accurate, and even manages to capture something of his resolute individualism.
Meeting Patrick and talking to him was a real pleasure. Sometimes the best way of starting a portrait is to have a conversation with the subject, watching carefully as different moods and emotions change their features and the atmosphere around them. Talking to Patrick reveals a character of considerable complexity, with strong, sophisticated political opinions and a mercurial charm. At the same time he has a real creative spirit, currently manifested in his interest in photography. In that respect we are certainly kindred spirits. After talking to him for a short while I wasn’t surprised to discover that is he running a course in photography at the Recovery College. In Patrick #2 I have developed the initial drawing further, using burnt sienna and yellow ochre diluted with white spirit. The aim is to work up a warm-toned underpainting for the flesh tones, while starting to model the features in terms of the fall of the light.