Tanvi and Mojo

This was one of the tougher commissions I have worked on. Anita got in touch with me about two months ago just after I had finished painting Nishi and her dad. We sort of went back and forth for a while regarding suitable reference images. The images that I finally got were not really workable and I almost said no. Then as a last-ditch effort I sent two composites done in Photoshop with the images most likely to work. Anita chose Option 1 and I was good to go. She wanted it done by the 8th of April since that day is Tanvi’s birthday but with the lock-down and all… let’s just say I wasn’t sure. And I did tell Anita that.

I started out with a few exploratory sketches and then I get a mail a few days later that it’s Option 2 and not 1. I almost said ‘no’ again at this point. But I may be a lot of things but a quitter is not one of them.  So it was on and forwards to more doodles and sketches. I got to work but as I got down to finer details I realized the reference photographs were just not good enough. There was no way I was going to be able to glean enough detail off of them.

After much perseverance, I arranged for a video call with Anita and showed her what I had. I even offered to scrap the whole thing if it was not something she instantly felt ‘a connect’ with. The issue was that the references I had were too fuzzy, lacked clarity and were definitely a few years apart.  Thankfully Anita liked what she saw but the mouth needed a little work. I knew that. I had just posted this the previous day on Facebook 🙂

You know – when someone looks at a portrait and says – “hmm.. there is something with theeee mouth? ”
I GET IT! This commisssion is driving me insane. I want to shoot somebody or have carbs. LOTS of them. And wash it all down with a stiff drink

Notice I said ‘stiff’ and not ‘soft’. #Justsaying

The good part was that I got to see Tanvi on that video call and instantly knew where the problem was. For one she looked older than the reference image for sure. The thing is that I had flipped the original picture of Tanvi so as to make both Mojo and Tanvi face each other. And although I had asked Anita to check size/proportion and everything else, I think it missed her mind to notice that the hair parting was now on the wrong side!! And since it’s a photograph one’s mind tends not to pay too much attention to the details. Only because one is not consciously looking for them.  Also each person’s left and right profile is different. This became glaringly obvious in the first version of the finished portrait. Tanvi’s teeth are different on the side I was showing in the portrait. Consequently, the smile was different!.
So it was back to the drawing board. Anita now sent me fresh photographs as Tanvi is ‘Now”. But the angle was all wrong. The head was not at the right angle compared to the original reference. So now it was doing a whole different portrait from the reference to look like Tanvi now but with the same angle.

I did my very best and it passed!! I was able to show Tanvi and her mum the portrait in time for her birthday and the refined and completed version two days ago. It’s DONE 🙂

Have a look at some of the reference images I had to work with…

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