Portraits that speak back

Thomas Loffill.  The painting is called Ben, Liz and Rola. Acrylic on canvas 60x46cm.  2020.

I’m interested in portraiture and am working on this theme in a rewrite of the play The Man with the Gold.  In my second act I have a character walking out from behind a portrait of himself. The portrait has been listening to the dialogue in the first act, and my protagonist (or is she antagonist? I don’t know yet) asks how he knows stuff that he shouldn’t.  ‘All portraits listen if they are well painted,’ says the prantagonist,  ‘and speak back.’  Portrait painter Thomas Loffill has just had work accepted by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition, so I asked him this question –  
‘When do you know at what point a portrait is speaking back to you?’  He replied.
 ‘Every “wrong” mark shouts out at you and distracts from your intention. So when the picture has stopped shouting, hopefully you will find that it is speaking.’   I like this and it’s enriched my dialogue.
The RSP show is at the Mall Galleries 6-15 May, 11-4pm.
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One Response to Portraits that speak back

    1. Very interesting. With me, the crucial point comes when the portrait stops telling me how it needs to be better and yells, “Please stop making me worse!”

      Comment by Charles Harris on 20 March, 2021 at 5:32 pm

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