Our friendly local permaculturists, Stuart and Gabrielle ask me if I'll do a special portrait in oils to remember their two pigs by and I’m pleased to say Yes.
First I’ve got to complete- alongside other projects- four colour designs for a large outdoor mural with my accomplice Alastair . It’s March when I start what I’ve now come to call the Piggypic. It’s good, because I’ve had time to think and I feel inspired.
Stuart’s emailed lots of photos, which are better than mine and I’m able to use different bits from different views to make a sort of Frankenstein pair of pigs.
I really have to be aware that each pig has his own characteristics. For example, their noses are quite different, and they aren't your run-of-the-mill-pink-all-over variety.. they're New Zealand Kune Kunes and each has his own pretty patterning .
I do a first detailed study, redrawing and even adding bits of paper ‘til I get something I’m pleased with. Now for the canvas..
I decide to put down a ground in a mixture of red and green, and this will be my basic palette of colours for the painting. I redraw in paint on the canvas from the sketch and then it’s a case of working as a whole as far as possible, without getting bogged down for too long in one section. The grassy areas are built up in two or three layers and I try not keep any detail to the minimum. The pigs are a joy to paint, and I especially delight in rendering the slavering chops of the one on the left!
I leave the apples ‘til last- as a treat for having nearly finished….I’m pleased with the result. I feel I’ve achieved what I wanted from the outset – a good portrait likeness, to be sure, but also to capture the feeling of the happy, simple World of The Pig- a whirly bright winter’s day, sky, trees, apples, grass.
What more could a pig wish for?