I am so close to completing this work now, I can hardly contain my excitement… The process of painting this portrait has been the most incredible journey for me, I am starting to feel a comfortable sense of satisfaction with my efforts but there’s really so much more to it.
This is a piece with true heart and soul behind it, for me this piece represents the wonderful journey I experienced during the time in my life where “Rhampo” played a part of everyday normality (be his presence significant or unassuming) . Maybe even more so, it’s the feeling I get when I think of the journey revolving around the finished piece, the journey that’s still to come… which is a story to be shared at a later stage.
When I photographed Rhampo back in 2008 in the grounds of the Botswana safari lodge where we both worked it was a very simple process. Rhampo was attending to his work, clearing the guest arrival point of ALL signs of Mopani tree litter (with the precision and thoroughness that only he could manner), I walked up to him and asked if I could take his photograph, holding out the rickety old camera that I had borrowed from my brother before leaving for Botswana as I did so. Unfortunately for me the camera was not rickety when my brother initially lent it to me, only did it become that way after a troop of baboons “borrowed” it from my house, taking a few snaps themselves before “hiding” it in the dry river bed, allowing me the chance to test my tracking skills under pressure. Baboon shenanigans aside, Rhampo smiled softly and nodded in agreement. I snapped two quick shots, thanked him and we both went back to our respective daily activities .
Looking back at those photographs now, knowing the man behind the picture, I just feel an immediate connection to them, something resonates within me when I look at them, I am transported directly back to the time, to the place, to the people, each one of the components that played such an integral part in a time of my life that I loved so much.
When doing portrait work it’s obviously most important to capture expressions and emotions, however subtle they may be. I love the subtlety that was captured when I took the picture of my old friend, because Rhampo was in fact an incredibly “subtle person”, in the purest and most discerning sense of the word. He was the most subtle yet extraordinarily effective human being.
That being said, I think my favourite part of this painting process has been seeing that soft smile I remember so well slowly come to life in his expression.
There is much to be said about this man but I shall save the words to accompany the finished piece.
Portrait work is intense, I feel as though there is big responsibility that comes along with it too, but, if you are able to get it right, my word, the fulfillment you feel is something special…
Not long to go now, I cant wait to share the finished piece with you!!