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Spamann Family Portrait.

So last June one Axel Spamann contacted me about doing a group portrait of him and his family. I have to say no one has really ever asked me this before and I was a little unsure how to proceed. Anyhow, we emailed back and forth a little, he agreed to my price and we decided to go ahead following the time-honoured illustration process of sketch, approval, changes, final art. Above is the sketch based on photos provided by Mr. Spamann. Axel’s appearance reminded me slightly of Franz Schubert so I thought it would be fun to dress the whole bunch in 19th-century clothes. He wanted the image for a Christmas letter so the idea seemed to fit nicely. 

By the way, I do sketches on Bienfang translucent layout paper (so much nicer-feeling than tracing paper!) with a Pilot Fineliner (no pencil) , working up the sketches by tracing and refining the image till I feel like it’s presentable. I’ve always liked to do very tight comps just so there are no surprises when people get the finished piece. 

Well, everyone in the family seemed pleased with the sketch so, with a few minor corrections and additions, I proceeded to final art. The way I do this is to trace the sketch onto Arches 90 lb. hot press watercolour paper using a Faber-Castell water-resistant Indian ink pen and a light table. I then paint over the drawing with Dr. Ph. Martin’s watercolours, incredibly intense dyes that can be softened, layered and mixed. Somewhat trepidatiously I sent a scan of the picture to Axel, who says that everyone is happy. Yehoo! The original is now on its way to Europe…

Thanks again, Axel and your lovely family, for a thoroughly enjoyable project and all my best wishes for the future!

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