MR 504 Circus People, oil on canvas, 1060 x 1370 1990s.
This large scale painting features a group of circus performers from Romania. Perhaps surprisingly, the inspiration was a small black and white photograph, the date is uncertain. The colour in Michael’s sketches for this work (see selection below) was established from the beginning. As always, drawing is the bedrock of this work, and many preparatory sketches were made before the canvas sprang into life. He used photographs purely for inspiration, never to copy, as a stepping off point. This picture was an opportunity to explore the complexities of the group portrait, to make each individual interesting in themselves, and to think about their relationship to the group. Where is the focus? Who might be the leader? What are their roles? Questions like this keep the painting alive!