So Fraser is a good friend of mine whom for most of that friendship has been willing to sit for me for quite a few paintings & my myriad reasons for wanting to paint him. Chief of those reasons is his slight heterochromia due, he tells me, to a childhood injury. It was this I wanted to make a point of in this painting – using a magnifying glass as my contrivance to do so.
He came to my studio armed with pastries & I with the magnifying glass and some coffee and we settled down to a sitting. I’d originally aimed for a more sparse composition, but this changed later when Fraser – who had since returned to the Prince’s Drawing School – told me that he was working on a series of self-portrait drawings. Liking the idea of including both his and my own versions of his countenance in the same image, I asked if he could post me some of his studies with the hope of maybe painting one of them into the picture.
Serendipity saw to it that on the same day his parcel arrived so did my pre-booked train tickets for my London trip to drop off this B.P. entry to be judged – train tickets which provided an immediately recognisable and small piece of colourful & relevant still-life minutiae that I just couldn’t resist including into the composition. Along with his drawings was a letter written to me in his inimitable handwriting – a barely legible scrawl I was familiar with from seeing the quotes and inspiration he often noted down that festooned his studio walls – which set me thinking and so I got back in touch with him again and asked if he could send me this time some of those painting quotes he rather liked, stressing that he writes them out by hand.
The famous quote by Whistler painted into the final picture seemed the most fitting of all.