Five great films that feature portrait painting
The deadline for submitting your portrait painting for Thailand’s first national portraiture is fast approaching. Perhaps its fortuitous that many of us are working from home unable to travel. Why not take this opportunity to paint?

RCB PORTRAIT PRIZE 2021 is also open to all artists: professional, amateur and student, Thai or foreigners living in Thailand. The important thing is that the artists need to have at least one live sitting.

To appreciate the importance of having a live sitting, we have listed here five films that show live sitting portrait painting. If you get a chance, we recommend you watch as a source of inspiration.

Portrait of Jennie (1948)

The first one is a black and white films, won an Oscar for Best Special Effects and was also nominated for Best Cinematography - Black and White. The story is about an impoverished painter, Eben Adams who falls in love with a little girl named Jennie Appleton when he first meets her in Central Park, Manhattan. He makes a sketch of her from memory.

Great Expectations (1998)

The plot of this film is similar to Portrait of Jennie in that the artist paints a portrait of a girl whom he falls in love with. This film is based on the 1861 novel by a British novelist, Charles Dickens. If you love watching film, you might be familiar with the 1998 American production film that starred Ethan Hawke as ‘Finn’, an orphan who one day enters the mansion of the richest woman and meets with ‘Estella’ starred by Gwyneth Paltrow. Finn, a talented artist, paints Estella’s portrait.  The portrait has become a signature of this film.

The artist who painted the portrait in the films was Italian, Francesco Clemente. Coincidently, Clemente’s artworks were exhibited at Bangkok Art Biennale 2018. Clemente’s artworks are also in the book ‘Life Is Paradise: The Portraits of Francesco Clemente'.

The Danish Girl (2015)

This 2015 film stars a British actor, Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener. Einar’s wife is also an artist. Where Einar paints landscapes, his wife Gerda Wegener, played by Alicia Vikanderan, paints portraits. Gerda, needing a female sitter asks Einar to dress in her clothing and sit for her painting. The Danish Girl has become one of the most recognised films about art and portrait painting. 

Titanic (1997)

One of the most epic love stories of all time, the Hollywood remake of Titanic starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose. Jack draws a portrait of Rose wearing a stunning ocean-blue diamond on a jewelled chain. If watching the movie, keep an eye out for the scene of Jack sketching Rose. The hands drawing Rose are not Leonardo DiCaprio’s but instead belong to James Cameron, the director of the blockbuster movie.

At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

Our last film is the story of renowned artist, Vincent van Gogh. There are many films about him, however, the interesting thing about his film is that the director, Julian Schnabel is also an artist.  Watch out for the scene where Van Gogh and artist, Gauguin paint a portrait of Madame Ginoux with completely different styles.

A few things to remember when painting your portrait

Italian artist, Amedeo Modigliani once said: ‘When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes’. There is a magic that happens when a painter faces his sitter. Not just visual, but the discussion that happens between the two. It’s an opportunity for the painter to learn things about the sitter’s life, feelings, aspirations and concerns.

In 2021, due to the restrictions of Coronavirus, we understand that it is not always possible to place your sitter in close proximity. Once solution is to paint your portrait, at least one live sitting, outside in an environment relevant to the life of the person you are painting. If this is not possible, for this year we are allowing ZOOM sittings. Please be aware that you must still provide a photograph of the artist, sitter and canvas in full view.
Submission deadline: 14 July via [email protected]

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