Silent Prayer

'Silent Prayer'. Oil portrait on linen, life size. 2015/6 by Helen Davison

‘Silent Prayer’. Oil portrait on linen, life size.

I started this portrait last year, and have been reworking parts of it since then. To say it has been a lesson in perseverance would be an understatement.

Originally the painting was larger and included the sitter’s hands and tops of legs indicating her being seated. It was a pose that I realised, too late, just didn’t work. The foreshortening on the arms and hands as they rested on her knees looked odd, and it was very difficult to make them look natural. I painted them at least 20 times – scraping back time and time again to no avail. Had I not been so pleased with the face – its likeness to the sitter, and the sense of psychology – I would have abandoned it months ago. In the end, I took the plunge and cropped the painting to head and shoulders, cutting down and re-stretching the canvas. I think it works and finally I feel that I have put this portrait to bad and can mentally move on.