Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Commissioned portrait of Majahara Duleep Singh

In this post, I would like to introduce a painted portrait in oils that I completed just about 8 months ago.

In the beginning of 2013, I receive a commission inquiry from DR. Sunny Sekhon for a portrait of the Maharajah Duleep Singh.
I knew very little of this historical figure, but once  Sunny explained to me who Duleep Singh was, I was happy to accept the commission.

Finish portrait of Maharajah Duleep Singh 2013

Here is a very condensed story of Maharajah Duleep Singh send to me by Sunny.

Maharajah Duleep Singh was crowned Maharajah at age 5. At that time, he was the richest individual in the world.  The British took over his kingdom and he was exiled to Britain. He ultimately died with no money, as he never received what was promised to him.
He became a Christian as a young man then was reinitiated into Sikhism at the end of this life. No picture exists of him when he was re-initiated into Sikhism. He was roughly 55 when he died.
I want the painting of him at roughly age 55 of his face and his upper chest. I have about 5 pictures of him from about age 20-42
By the time he died he had lost all appeals to regain the pension which was promised. He was a broken hearted but content with is life and his relationship with god.
So, it's kind of a picture that we have to imagine with a few wrinkles on his face (maybe even a looking a little worn out) but one that shows inner happiness/peace in his face. Hope this makes sense.
I will forward a few other pictures of him if you think this is do-able. 

To educate myself further about Duleep Singh, I went on line, poured over the books that Sunny had lent me,  and agreed with him that a composite of several photographs as he aged into his mid 40's, would help me invision and paint him as man in his mid 50's.

After I showed him a 24X20" pencil sketch made on paper, we decided to go forward with the painting.
Sunny also told me that he was in the process of writing a book about Duleep Singh.

a sketched of an aged Duleep singh, from composites of photographs

I blackened the back of the sketch so that I may trace the drawing to my canvas

Once I began the painting, I would sent pictures as the painting progressed, asking Sunny for constructive criticism.  He also send me additional pictures to help understand the man that I was painting.
Glaze the canvas with yellow ochre.

 Transferring the drawing.

Beginning to layer the undertone/neutrals in order to establish lights and shade.
 My focus through out the painting was not only to capture his likeness but also his essence,  

Here I began to focus on the beard.

Here are some of Sunny's s suggestions, which were very helpful to me:
Eyes darker- more of a steely stare
Eye brows thicker
Mouth/lip- upper lip forward
Separate beard in middle to make it look ties, a little bushy, and neat
Take beard higher on cheeks
Thicker mustache

I continued to work on the face, painted a tied beard, parted in the middle, (a military Sikh custom), and focussed on the jewelry.  Also painting light faling on the various textiles, and jewels was a real treat. As the painting progressed, I decided to draped part oh his cloak onto the other shoulder to balance the design and frame the emerald pendant.  The added quick brushstrokes of red in the chocker was to test and see if a touch of red would better frame his face.

Work on the bottom lip, grayed the beard, darkened the purna (band on the forehead), and began working on the chocker.
 Lastly, I added red beads to the chocker, and softened the gray in the beard. 

Maharajah Duleep Singh   2013