Ronnie was a larger than life character who I encountered when he was studying welding at evening class. Uncompromising would the best way to describe him. He was a real north east Scotland character and the landscape in the background was intended to reflect this.
Every piece of work helps to refine your process and this was no exception. We did a half day in the studio and then took a pile of images to support completion. When I have to work from photographic reference I prefer not to work from a single photograph and try to use a series of images. For this portrait I constructed a Photoshop mock-up of the composition that was a real patchwork of smaller elements. This gives the perspective and drawing a slight distortion and I liked that.
The upper portions of the figure were painted with a very detailed ‘dead painting’ layer and that technique worked well for emphasising the lighting. I think that’s what gives the face in particular a real sense of being in the world.
Part of the inspiration for this was Norman Rockwell’s painting of Rosie the Riveter. Rockwell’s work was one of the things that got me into painting when I was a wee boy. The sinuous cable against the static figure was the main thing about it.
This painting featured in the Scottish Portrait Awards exhibition in 2020. The work is now with a private collector.