Earlier this year, A private client contacted me expressing interest in commissioning some fresh portraiture of the famous Canadian Major-General, Sir Isaac Brock (6 October 1769 – 13 October 1812).
Brock was the leader of the Upper Canada (Ontario) leg of the Canadian Army militia during the breakout of the War of 1812, responsible for mobilizing Canadian troops and defending Upper Canada against the United States, most memorably at Fort Mackinac and Detroit, as well as the Battle of Queenston Hieghts, where he was ultimately shot in the chest and killed.
After communicating and establishing a proposal & details, I am now proud to say that I am working on contributing to Canadian history by recreating visions of Sir Isaac Brock, based on the only two accurate likenesses of him known to exist. Although other artists have made other portraits of him, many of them are actually elaborations based upon the most common image of him: this painting of his bust in profile by an undetermined artist.
Variations of this original image include the following pieces:
Although each of these variations are obviously skillfully executed elaborations upon an original work, neither of them venture very far into detail about the likeness of the man himself outside of his profile. This is where I come in.
Working from minimal reference, my task, as an illustrator, is to recreate Brock’s likeness in a three-quarter-view perspective, in order to view his face as he might have actually looked in life.
To accomplish this task, I have utilized various methods to help me visualize Brock’s face. Based on my research, the adult painting of him was done circa 1809, making him around 40 — three years prior to his death at 43 — making it my primary infleunce to draw upon. I have experience working with cadavers and muscle anatomy (including dissection), as well as 3D studies and character concept art; As a result of this experience, when working with organic subject matter I have been conditioned to constantly consider tissue structures and placement, as well as how these parts move and interact within their areas of movement and influence. The self-portrait below is a visual example of this experience.
My first effort to visualize Brock involved drawing horizontal parallels from the original work, and translating them carefully into simplified linework and facial landmarks, as shown below…
… From here, I worked on a head-on facial reconstruction (not posted here), and eventually produced this preliminary 3/4-view portrait sketch…
Personally, I feel there is something a little off about the eyes (for now), and the uniform is partially inaccurate, but these and other improvements are to be remedied before the completion of the final image. For now, my working sample of the current sketch is featured below.
Although I cannot post any images of the progress of the project beyond this point upon this blog (for copyright reasons), I have found this piece to be both interesting and challenging in its own respect, and look forward not only to completing it, but to also have it utilized as a commissioned illustration.