Sketch portraits

Working on a commission it helps, so far as is possible, to sketch the subject from life – face-to-face. It allows me a much better idea of the subject’s facial expressions and character than any photo that might be provided. Months after you can see things in it that you could never have understood with a photo.

Sketching is very different from the actual painting or drawing itself. As it is unplanned you never quite know what is going to come out -while the finished art is like a well-structured musical composition, sketching is like improvised jazz where it evolves almost without thought – almost, but not quite. When it turns out well and you see the (hopefully) happy and surprised face of the subject it’s a really worthwhile feeling. But there is also the risk that it won’t -you’ll just get it all out of perspective or perhaps can’t capture a likeness. A line or two a fraction out of place and it’s gone. (I’ll explore the whole issue of likenesses in another post) If there is time I try again but I have to bear the uncertainty that it might not go well at all.

When Club Pedestal -“the playground for the dominant woman” – first opened, I used to keep a Pedestal sketchbook (which still exists) and would freely make quick 20 minute portraits of some of the ladies attending that evening. Though it was a pleasurable activity for me and for them, certain factors hindered the drawing, such as irritating strobe lighting or guests (usually male) bumping into me or standing in my way -one even spilt a drink over me!-so that after a while I abandoned the idea. All the same the sketches were popular and introduced me to many interesting people.

Last week I had the pleasure of sketching Mistress Elita Darling, dominatrix resident in London and Lady Mephista from Germany, whom you will already have seen in a previous blog post. This is what I came up with – as luck would have it the results were pretty satisfying.

Mistress Elita Darling



Lady Mephista



Here are three other sketches associated with commissions featured on this blog:-

Elizabeth Swan
Morrigan Hel
Nina Birch




Portrait of Mistress Troy


Mistress Troy, together with Mistress Venus whose portrait I published a while back, is one of New York’s legendary mistresses so I was very honoured to receive her commission a while back. She had a very clear idea of her fantasy and explained it succinctly but left enough leeway for me to extemporise on it -the perfect client!


She has created her own dedicated web-page  for this portrait, so I’ll leave it to her to give you a great description of the whole project.

Learn more about Sardax portraiture here

Please remember if you are commissioning for a birthday to leave a few months as there is usually a waiting list for commissioned artwork.

Portrait of Lady Lila Stern


Lady Lila Stern of Los Angeles was gifted a copy of my Venus in Furs a few months back and instantly desired to be portrayed as Wanda herself. So this portrait is in very much the style of the ten watercolour illustrations in that book. The same watercolour technique, the same sensual atmosphere, the boots, the whip and of course, the furs…a huge fur coat. The commissioner of the portrait holds the wine before her -as her Severin.

Learn more about Sardax portraiture and commissioning  here

Please remember if you are commissioning for a birthday to leave a few months as there is usually a waiting list for commissioned artwork.