In the Herald - Portrait Style is Picture Perfect

Date Published 
Wed 2 Nov 2022

We had something very different this week at Irvine Camera Club.  Local artist David McRae came along to the club to show us his drawings and paintings.  David works almost entirely from photographs, often building up complex composite images with interweaving themes and ideas.  Much of David’s work is done with acrylic paint on canvas and hardwood boards.  He explained that achieving the desired results requires building up the layers of paint over many days, something that he finds not only time consuming but also that it removes the spontaneity from the art.

Over the years David has found himself moving more towards using pencils to produce his pictures.  He uses a propelling pencil which gives him the level of control and fine detail that he can’t get with a regular pencil.  Another benefit is his propelling pencil doesn’t need to be constantly sharpened.  David explained that he can soften areas of his work to give contrast in the sharply drawn areas against the backgrounds and filled areas.  He does this using a vibrating rubber, something that caused a few laughs in the audience – especially when he recalled the reactions of his fellow artists to the noise of his “vibrating rubber” in a nude life drawing session!

David’s subject matter varies from iconic locations in Glasgow to pets and wildlife, but his biggest source of material is portraits of rock and pop stars.  He is a big music fan, especially of the Beatles, David Bowie and his favourite, Paul Weller.  So, it is no surprise that when working in his studio David always has his Spotify playing as he works on another superbly detailed drawing of a rock icon.

As photographers it was very useful for us to see how David takes photographs as a starting point for his art.  The nature of what he is doing requires that he looks in minute detail at what he is working with, something that perhaps we as photographers don’t do enough of with our own work.

I hope you enjoy this very small selection of David’s work which he has kindly allowed me to share with you.  You can see more of his art on his website

Irvine Camera Club meets every Tuesday night at the Irvine Community Sports Club.