In the spirit of gift-giving and Christmas, we spoke to Lee Fraser who recently commissioned a portrait for his partner, Sage, ahead of her birthday. The portrait is of a pair of trainers.
Lee commissioned Andrew James to create the piece. It was a wholly collaborative and exciting process; giving someone the gift of a portrait is a unique and special experience like no other.
Why I gave this portrait as a gift
“My partner, Sage, and I like to surprise each other with paintings. We’ve been together for four years now and as Sage’s 50th birthday began to approach I started to think about what sort of painting I could surprise her with to mark the occasion and capture our relationship. The painting was inspired by a photograph that I took from a picnic that we had at Hatfield house, we were laughing and joking around and just kicking our feet up. It’s a picture that has always put a smile on our faces, it’s one of my favourites and felt like the perfect idea for a commission.”
Finding the right artist for the portrait
Lee also walked us through the process of commissioning the piece and how he came across Andrew James’s work:
“A few years ago my partner bought me a painting by Robbie Wraith called ‘Gin and Tonic’ as a reference to our first date where we coincidentally drank a lot of gin and tonics. I loved this painting and that
was sort of where I got the idea to create a portrait of objects as opposed to faces. I reached out to Robbie to get some advice on where to look and he recommended that I contact Annabel Elton who would help me find an artist to commission. She came back to me with a shortlist of three artists and helped me choose purely on merits of style. Andy had already done a painting of trainers before and it was a really care-free piece which had the exact character of the kind of piece that I wanted to create. There was a vibrancy and energy to his painting that I really loved. So he was my artist of choice and he was the best person I could have possibly picked for the job. I am thrilled with the final piece. Everything came together just brilliantly.”
How the gift was received
Lee presented Sage with the portrait over her birthday weekend. He told us that “it was fabulous, I think I did very well. I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction. She was blown away and completely speechless. She loves the piece.” He mentioned that Andy had also provided some preliminary sketches and charcoals of the piece so Sage was able to see the whole process. “It’s been a fantastic experience and I am thrilled with how it all went!”
From the artist’s perspective
We also caught up with Andrew about this painting too: “I think of this painting as a statement of someone’s deep love for their partner. It’s a poetic expression in that way. The painting takes a modern object and amplifies it and in this way I think it makes a statement in a flamboyant but also quite subtle way. I like this piece because it is so completely odd; it’s a portrait, but it also isn’t a portrait, and in being both of those things it becomes an expression of some really unique qualities which makes it particularly beautiful and funny. I hope that when people see this they think of it as bright and sunny. It’s a euphoric, anti-gravity sonnet.”
“Lee was the easiest person in the world to work with – he goes straight to the heart of the matter and I think that might be why this piece feels so special”
or contact Annabel Elton firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation.
Interviews and article by Ellie Lachs