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 Lady Mephista 1



Lady Mephista showing her portrait

Drawing inspiration from Lady Mephista’s title, I worked on the concept of a demonic presence ruling over a fiery Hell, such as one might meet in Goethe’s ‘Faust’ – sophisticated and alluring, but dangerous. In the rough stage Lady Mephista was wearing horns but these were discarded for the artwork as being too distracting. The tail still remains however – discreetly flicking up from behind.

Learn more about Sardax portraiture and commissioning  here

Portrait of Lady Mephista 2

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