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Behind the scenes on the painting of "Dreamer"

I'd always avoided painting people because it never seemed to end well. I lost confidence. However, after spending hours pouring over a book about Norman Rockwell (one of my heroes), I decided it was time to face up to my fears one last time.

I thought up a few scenarios and bribed my 7 year old daughter Julia to be my model. (50p and a bar of chocolate - bargain!) I took hundreds of photos in different outfits and with different props. For this 'story', I told her to imagine she was really bored in school and day-dreaming about something fun she would do later. She enjoyed the role-play and it made the shoot much more effective and enjoyable than others I've tried. She did her thing and I took as many photos as I could!

It was really interesting to look at the photos later. None was perfect in its entirety - a great hand here, an enigmatic smile there. I knew that the finished painting would have to be a composite image. I made changes as I painted, such as altering the colour of the table and background. Lastly, I scanned and photoshopped a real drawing by Julia to change its perspective and traced then painted it on to the open book. So the drawing is hers. It's authentic. That was really important to me. "Dreamer" can be seen at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery (West Sussex, UK) until 31st January 2022.

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