If ever there was a symbolic illustration of how little free time I have in my life these days, this painting is it. In total it probably took around 8 hours or so to paint. Sadly, those eight hours were spread across nearly a month. What with TMA marking, day schools, work commitments, family life, domestic emergencies and the ordinary hustle and bustle of everyday life I began to feel I’d never finish this picture. When I started it I was clean shaven. Over the time it took me to complete it I grew a beard (which I started to paint in) and then a few days ago I shaved the beard off which necessitated the painting out of the beard and getting things back to more or less where I’d started nearly a month ago. I finally completed the picture in the tiny wee hours of this morning. All of the painting was done either very late at night or in the small hours, which I think is reflected here in the slightly weary look, especially round the eye.
There are passages that I really like especially where I managed to achieve something with a single brush stroke (as opposed to my too-often overworked scrubbing around). I wanted to create something rather more enigmatic than the earlier portraits and the off-centre composition adds a tension that I find strangely compelling. My daughter thinks it’s spooky; which I like.