In this post, I compare two self-portraits: “Lonesome”, completed in spring 2018, and “Wild”, a new version in progress. For each, I adopted a different approach to portraiture — a direct alla prima approach in the first case, and a traditional, the indirect approach for the other.

Alan Douglas Ray, "Tinsley", 12" x 9", oil on panel, private collection.

I had the pleasure this month of painting two portraits — Tinsley, 9, and James, 6. Both paintings are small, 12″ x 9″, on Raymar panels. The grandparents commissioned this works.

Alan Douglas Ray", "Harry", 12" x 10", oil on panel, Private Collection

Harry, the English Retriever. 12″ x 10″, oil on panel. I’ve recently finished a portrait commission of our friend “Harry”, a large English retriever and celebrated blogger of Toronto’s history, architecture and politics. He’s a good sitter too. I think I captured his character well from the start.  He typically has a concerned look, a fear of abandonment perhaps.  If Harry could talk, he’d probably say I’ve made him look old and dull. He isn’t, although he has been around the block a few times.

The Reader

I’ve been working on a series of small figure paintings, each one 16″ x 12″ and depicting the same model. The subject is a friend and neighbour of ours who posed for me last September. The late afternoon sun was streaming in through our patio doors creating a lighting effect that I was eager to take advantage of while it lasted. The resulting compositions remind me of what Vermeer achieved in his most famous works: a quiet private atmosphere with a sense of mystery and intrigue. Sometimes the figure gazes at the viewer directly, inviting a response, but more often he’s engaged in his own affairs.