Portrait of my Grandpa

I've never painted a portrait of a human before, so when my painting instructor decided it was time to try my hand at portraiture, the first thing that came to mind was to paint a portrait of my Grandpa Hull, who passed away in 2016, as a gift for my mom, who helped me get back into my oil painting practice this year.

I wanted to capture his warm, sarcastic personality, along with a few things that were ever present when thinking of him, so instead of a proper head-and-shoulders portrait, I decided to capture a moment of Grandpa sitting in his favorite red chair, with a glass of rose wine and that expression on his face that he just told a great groaner of a joke and was savoring your bewilderment, haha.

In the source photo that I was working from (above), the wall behind the chair was empty, so I added a painting of my grandmother's to have a little piece of her spirit in the painting as well. The painting I used is an unfinished canvas that I inherited after she died in 1995 (pictured below). I've had the canvas in my closet for over 20 years now, but have not been able to bring myself to finish it yet. Perhaps someday I will, but for now, I'm happy to have a piece of her work-in-progress, and enjoyed recreating it in this portrait. I also added the white peonies on the table, and changed the plant in the background to a spider plant, as those were my floral reminders of her.

This piece was definitely a labor of love for me, and painting it brought me a lot of grief healing. Painting his expression made me smile, creating that familiar setting made me feel I was there, and capturing this moment in time reminded me that we can always visit people and places that are gone by calling up the good memories in our hearts.

Here are some progress photos of the portrait in process:

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