Last year on a sunny day in June of 2021, one of Britain's most accomplished athletes, Christine Ohuruogo, visited my studio here in Buckinghamshire for a Portrait Sitting. I was surprised to hear I was the first artist to capture Christine's portrait, as I would've expected such a figure to already have had multiple portraits of them commissioned.
The sitting went better than I could have asked for, we conversed about a vast range of topics, including a discussion of some more intimate experiences, on and off the track. The initial portrait sketch, which I undertake during every sitting, focused on Christine with a closed smile, but I soon realised when I went to take some reference photos after the sitting, that Christine's smile was something that must be captured. The difficulty of painting teeth is often a topic for discussion Portrait Artists, and a simple search of "Oil Portrait" in Google Images illustrates just how few opt to take on that challenge.
During a sitting, I will take an Alla Prima Oil Sketch, which can take anywhere between 2-5 hours. During this process, I will be painting the sitter in a certain pose. The fluidity of my work with oils allows for the sitter to move when, and if needed, which also ensures that the sitter is at ease. I personally believe that a sitting should be an interactive experience for the artist, and the respective sitter, and in order to capture a likeness, there must be a deeper connection between the two.
Over the next year, I worked on a larger scale portrait of Christine, and knew that I was taking on quite the challenge. Capturing someone who has achieved such feats, that most can only dream of, meant that I felt what I call a 'positive pressure'; which for me, is an understanding of the great magnitude of the Portrait, which then allows me to create my best possible work. Upon completion, I began to organise an unveiling, which is where the commissioned Portrait is revealed for the first time in its entirety. Alongside family and friends, I pulled back the large black cloth, to reveal months of hard work, all to Christine's visual delight.
It has been a great pleasure working with Christine, and it's just another reminder as to why I do what I do; documenting stories of interesting individuals, and providing an insight into those have that gone further to achieve the unbelievable. I now have the great joy of calling Chrissy a friend, and an experience that I will treasure for years to come. The portrait now hangs proudly in Christine's home, along with a smaller portrait of Mr. Lloyd Cowan MBE.
To learn more about Christine, visit: https://chrissyo.com/
To learn more about George, visit: www.officialgroves.com