Earlier this year, Rita de Heer asked me to draw a portrait of her, based on reference photographs, which she could use in a range of sizes and formats. After discussing the details, she sent through the photos and I prepared a number of very quick digital thumbnails sketches.

Portrait of Rita - in progress

Rita liked the black and white, but wanted images to reflect her land care activities. I did a pencil sketch and drew the portrait (above right) with a dip pen and ink. Unfortunately, the flowers at the left were easily confused with a noxious weed, so I picked a grevillea flower in the station carpark, drew that and then replaced it digitally. I also moved the butterflies around and added the black background. This let me rearrange the elements to suit a range of sizes, and the butterflies and frog (I am very fond of the frog) were suitable as thumbnail images.

Here is the final portrait at its full dimensions:

Portrait of Rita

I enjoyed this project, and it was an opportunity to try out several approaches I’ve been wanting to use. The scattering of flowers and butterflies is loosely inspired by a vase my mother has, and the linework with black background is a style I admire for portraiture.