Painting Eliot

For my exhibition in Jamaica in November this year, I thought it would be suitable to have a portrait of a West Indian in the show. Jamaicans are few and far between here where I live but I did manage to find a couple of them willing to pose for me. One of my models, Eliot is a student at the local grammar school and keen on rugby, so I painted him posing with a rugby ball on his knees. He has interesting natural blond highlights in his hair which were hard to reproduce without over-modelling.

The off-white ball he was holding stood out forcefully against the darks of his shirt and jeans and needed to be put firmly in the shade. As it was also covered in logos and writing which would have drawn the eye even more and cluttered the picture, I removed them in the portrait. It took a while to get the shapes right as the ball is not quite an ellipse nor are the markings on it.

My palette was limited to ivory black, lead white, yellow ochre, vermilion and ultramarine. The last I used only for the jeans and the markings on the ball.

Eliot, oil on canvas, 80 x 55 cm

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