I had my portrait painted by Christine as part of her series of prominent lawyers. Flattered as I certainly was by being included in her choice of subjects in that category, I much enjoyed the new (for me) experience of actually sitting (relatively) still in the tranquil drawing room in the President’s lodgings at Trinity, Oxford undisturbed by other than the odd intrusive bee. Christine put me at my ease while simultaneously both deftly and swiftly putting paint to canvas. I had no difficulty, once I saw the finished product in appreciating that she had captured me accurately though, whether nature could have done a better job in the first place was not something for which she could take responsbility.
Michael J Beloff QC
I have sat for Christine Youldon several times over the last ten years and never tire of the experience. I feel I am part of the creative process; that by giving my own time, enthusiasm and concentration I am helping create a work of art. I also feel that in doing so I am, in my own very small way, helping to sustain the centuries-old tradition of “live” portrait painting.
At first, but only briefly, I found close inspection disconcerting. However, artist and sitter soon fall into a relaxed routine. Sometimes there are moments for a chat, but I like to think a sensitive sitter knows when to stop talking and allow the painter to concentrate. On those occasions the sitter is left alone with his or her thoughts, perhaps for three or four minutes, perhaps for ten or twelve. I see those periods of silence as an opportunity, for how often do we give ourselves thinking time during the course of an ordinary day?
I try not to see or comment upon a work in progress in case it sounds like interference. However, I take a close look at each finished canvas. I am never apprehensive about that first inspection, but I am sometimes surprised by a look in the eyes or the mood in my face. It is something I cannot see in myself, but I trust Christine and know she will have got it right. I know some of her other sitters and can see from her paintings that she has not only represented them accurately, but also captured something else: something photographs do not always convey.
I am also warmed by the thought that long after I am gone and forgotten, someone might look up at a wall, wonder about the man in the frame and admire the work of the artist who committed him to canvas.
My tips for novice sitters: eat first, because rumbling stomachs can disrupt concentration, and if you are to occupy a wooden chair, grab at least one fat cushion. If you happen to be one of life’s restless fidgets or incorrigible motor mouths, sitting for a portrait artist may not be for you.
“Christine painted my portrait whilst I was on maternity leave. She made the whole experience one I will always treasure. The sittings were very relaxed and Christine worked around the fact that I had a young baby on my lap. The resulting portrait captures a snap shot of a very happy period which is evoked whenever I look at the portrait.”
I found it very exciting to sit for not one, but two portraits. The experience was very exciting and stimulating, although I know I talked and moved too much for the “straight” portrait. It was, I must say, a very relaxed sitting which I think is vital for the finished portrait.
The second portrait as myself as “Dame Daisy Durden” was very different. We had little time and so between shows one day I simply posed for numerous photographs on stage. This took less than an hour. The finished results really amazed me. Both portraits I think captured me as myself and as a pantomime character. Not only is it a superb likeness, but the intricate costume is captured perfectly. The whole experience was new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am thrilled with the results.
Kenneth Alan Taylor
Sitting for Christine Youldon
I’ve had the honour to be painted by Christine Youldon,
Just like, to name but a few, Lord Woolf, Kenneth Clarke and Tom Huggon,
And if the prospect makes you feel tense,
Let me tell you, it’s quite an experience.
One can chat if one chooses,
Or stay quiet whilst Christine muses,
There’s much measuring and observation,
Paint mixing and alteration,
Until finally a head appears,
A pair of eyes, nose and ears.
Although, I’m laid bare,
Under Christine’s stare,
I find it relaxing,
Not at all taxing.
I can have plenty of breaks,
If I fancy a coffee or my leg aches.
I rather enjoy having my head,
Drawn and painted.
She thinks all that deliberation and concentration is fun,
And when Christine is finally done,
I take a peak and oh what a surprise!
It’s me! Me! Brought to life in oils on canvas through another human being’s eyes!
It’s not a photo, it definitely ain’t,
It’s a strange emotion, it’s feelings and struggles put down in paint.
And to Christine I say,
“Oh my word! That’s me,
Down to a tee!”
I have been painted seven times by Christine. I am not the easiest sitter being impatient and bothersome and always`on the go`. So it has always been an unusual pleasure to be coaxed by her to sit for as long as is needed to capture the essence of a good likeness. This is helped because sitting time has been saved by Christine taking photographs for her preliminary sketching: later followed by sitting at her studio: a peaceful place. The portrait at which I am looking in the photograph is my favourite.