This is Jes Olesen, professor of neurology at Copenhagen University, and one of our senior mentors at the Danish Headache Center. This portrait was presented to him on his 80th birthday. It was the first time I had to talk about my painting to an audience. Whatever I said must have been barely organized. Still, it was an honor to be asked to paint this portrait. It was Rigmor’s idea. Colleagues pitched in for the gift, and the plan was to donate whatever we collected to Let’s Save The Brain Foundation at the Philippine General Hospital.
What I learned from Jes is that building organisations requires academic acuity, focus, and persistence.
The drawing was done on July 15. The painting was done by 21 August but I made small revisions until 30 August. There was time for the paint and varnish to dry. We presented the gift to him on 14 September 2021.
|This is the reference photograph. Rigmor and I go through several and settle on this one.||I had not done a portrait of a male figure in six years, although I have been practicing with drawings.||The outlines are redrawn using raw umber. There is no attempt at likeness. The goal is to make sure the shapes are intact and ready for the next phase.|
|During color blocking, the entire canvas is covered with base colors + titanium white. The face is yellow, red, and blue to start with. There is a lot of brown in this one. I try to understand the pattern on the tie.||The face is made more human by using brown on top of the base colors. I aim for some likeness by marking the borders of the eyes, eyebrows, nose and mouth. The eyes are too close together though.||I show this to Rigmor. (Earlier versions would have worried her.) The eyes are closer to the right position but far from done. I check reference on jacket construction: Cezanne.|
|The eyes are starting to take shape. The jacket has some form. The darkest area of the painting is over the subject’s right shoulder. Serious attempt at achieving some likeness.||Big effort on the background. I use whatever greens I have in the paint box. I look at the reference photo for guidance but do not want to copy each leaf.||Rigmor has to ask Jes’s wife what color his eyes are (green, brown, and blue). The jacket changes tone with the addition of gold. In the finished portrait, I delete the three small stripes on the subject’s left shoulder.|