top of page

The gifts from a single portrait

The portrait above is Odette Marie Céline Hallowes (née Brailly) by Pietro Annigoni 1961 (ink and tempera on thick paper prepared with gesso). Licensed from the National Portrait Gallery for use on this blog post.


The more I develop my craft as an artist, the more hungry I become. Hungry to experience visual art. Particularly to notice its impact on my body. What lights me up, even if I don’t understand its meaning…

I was inspired by an article in the October 2015 Issue of The Simple Things titled ‘Arts in Mind’. The article encourages us to look at art more slowly by choosing quieter times, paying attention to our reactions, and simply focusing on a few great works of art that move you somehow.

I don’t know about you, but I can find visiting art galleries (particularly in London) rather overwhelming at times. They are often busy and packed full of art with tiny little descriptive labels. I feel the need to move quickly from room to room like a bumblebee in order to maintain a feeling of spaciousness and ease.

It was my birthday last week. One of our activities was a trip to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portraits. Of course, they were breathtaking and inspiring. But they are not the reason for this posting today.

We had a little time left over to visit a few more of the free exhibits. I visited Room 32 which was brimming with sumptuously detailed portraits of the Queen, Hockney, and Princess Diana to name a few….

Then I noticed it happened

I came upon a painting that met me with such a punch to my chest (in a good way). I noticed butterflies in my stomach as my nose was pressed up really close to the finer details. I stayed in front of this piece for a good 15 minutes…bobbing back and forth pondering what and why I might be feeling undone by it. You see it was more textured, loose, and unfinished perhaps. Whatever the artist's intention, it was love at first sight. It moved me. I was left wanting more.

The painting is here on my blog post. I love it so much that I have paid a license fee to keep it here on my blog. The artist is called Pietro Annigoni.

Pietro Annigoni is an Italian portrait and fresco painter influenced by the Italian Renaissance. Between 1945 to 1960, Annigoni produced a succession of important and very successful works including the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. He signed the manifesto of Modern Realist Painters which opposed abstract (interesting!) art and the various movements that had sprung up in Italy in these years.

What is it I love about the painting?

It evokes within me what I hope to achieve with my own art. It is the essence of a human soul without the finer details. There is a flow of energy and a softness within the layered muted colours. I love that it appears unfinished so that I may use my own imagination to fill in the gaps… There is just enough here to create an impression of the person…perhaps a teeny tiny bit abstract? (interesting!). I love the fact that the face is not emphasised as much as the background. Yet the background emphasises the face. I love, love, love the energy of it.

I have collected a few more examples of his more sketchy ink/tempera paintings that appear unfinished.

Overall the colours are duller than my palette. But, I adore the mystery of them. Their energy. Do you?

Personal conclusions

There are many amazing artists out there. There are many fine artists who can create detailed paintings where you have to look closely to see if it is a photograph or not (Pietro Annigonis's more detailed art pieces like Queen Elizabeth II fit that description).

I have no aspirations to be a fine classical artist. My passion is energised when I create fresh art with a new twist. That’s why I love collaging my art and deliberately omitting details. Deliberately keeping them perfectly imperfect. They evoke a soul-connection within me somehow. The painting above touches me in the same way. It enriches me deeply. Revealing a lot about where I would like to be heading.

As well as my products and illustration services, I feel inspired to venture into Pet and Human portraiture (with my twist) and have added the service to my Etsy shop here. I am looking forward to its evolution.

Over to you

Is there a creative hobby you would love to research a little further? If so, I invite you to take the journey of purposeful awareness, with no pressure for quantity. Have more emphasis on the quality of the experience. Just study one or two objects that trigger you somehow (good and bad). Take them into your soul and feel why they move you so much. Drink them in.

There are secrets to be revealed to you in those quiet moments.

and also

If you enjoyed my blog post then do comment or share on your social media. 


bottom of page