Prior to my daughter turning 16, she asked for a movie poster of Dunkirk, one of her favourite films. That seemed a simple and fair request, but I didn’t tell her that I would go one step further and rather than just buy a movie poster or hunt down a screen print, I would reproduce the original poster as a painting instead. I quickly and faithfully replicated the movie poster on a stretched canvas using acrylics and aquarelle pencils, and with a few days to spare before her birthday decided I would also create a secret portrait of her as well.
I’d wanted to paint her portrait for many years as we’d always had a photographic portrait of her brother hanging in the lounge, but not one of her, which never sat well with us. To address this inbalance I wanted to make it large and distinctive, choosing a 3o x 60 inch stretched canvas. My daughter is an avid reader and I wanted to reflect this in the painting. I removed the pages from several old books I’d purchased from a used book store we would visit when staying at a favourite holiday desitination years ago, and glued them to the canvas, washing them in warm hue to enhance the aged book look and creating a vignette suggestive of an old photograph. Her actual portrait I deliberately kept simple (both for stylistic and time saving purposes), highlighting the bold red of her bandana as a contrast to the raw white canvas of her face, only lightly sketching in pencil her facial features with a little more intensity in her hair. We always joke that she looks pale as a ghost, so why would I represent her otherwise?
We presented it to her on her birthday and it took pride of place in the loungeroom for all to see. Everyone – including Nikita – loves the portrait, saying it captures her quiet, thoughtful, reflective personality.