New Photograph:  Portrait of J. Rudyard Kipling,  1865 - 1936 by Barbara Sparhawk

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New Photograph: Portrait of J. Rudyard Kipling, 1865 - 1936 by 

Oil Portrait of Rudyard Kipling, Writer. I’ve loved his exploring heart, his gift for imagery and lyrical writing, his storytelling that pulled you in to dust and sweat, wild animals, and his being so moved by foreign ports, land, & people, since my childhood. Oh Rudyard Kipling!! The places you’ve taken me!!.
Born in Bombay- live-wire mother and sculptor father who met in Rudyard Lake and so named their firstborn. Aunts married famous painters; cousin Stanley Balldwin was 3 times PM pre-WW I. Nobel Prize – Literature 1907, still youngest ever & first English language winner; rejected a knighthood.
This kind of invitation to fantastic adventure in his tribute to Bombay, and it’s “strong light and darkness”: Mother of Cities to me, For I was born in her gate, Between the palms and the sea, Where the world-end steamers wait.
was surpassed by his more famous and endlessly exquisite:
‘On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’- fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!"
At 16, unqualified to pursue academia, shipped to Pakistan to assist the editor of the local rag, Civil & Military Gazette, which he called his most true love. Thank God, they asked him to contribute short stories. Rudyard Kipling was later called the first modern science fiction writer. He left at 24 for Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, sending stories home from dozens of states, crossed Canada, met Mark Twain in NY. 8 months later, Kipling moved to Liverpool, got famous in London. In 1891, at 25, he headed for South Africa, Australia, New Zealand; married Carrie Balestier, moved to Vermont. 5 years later moved to Torquay on Devon’s coast. The family regularly trekked to South Africa. Dozens of places in Canada, the UK, and USA are named for him.
His beautiful poem," If-" written in 1895 remains superb advice for growing up:
“If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…. Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…” The only spoken words at Ayn Rand’s funeral; runs like a river for over a 100 years through songs, plays, movies (The Man Who Would Be King), and rock’n’roll. Like other Kipling stories, immortalized, complained about, his fanciful combination of delight and terror keeps his memory sharp. Rudyard Kipling was a vociferous taker-in of all the world he could set his eyes on, and then who wrote about beautifully for the rest of us, so we might see it too.
ABOUT THE PAINTING: Again reaching into the time and presence of the subject, and one that startled me! I couldn’t get him to hold still! His hands moved, his head turned, he sat, stood, he was all motion. It was amazing. Then he settled down a bit. I turned his profile from the reference photograph I used to a 3/4 face, and because he was a writer wanted to include his hand (if I could get it to hold still). I am not a biographer-portraitist to trust, I invent as I go along. But all he means to me is in this: The sun of India is burning behind him, and the roads, waterways and purple skies drift from his blue eyes and crowded brain. He’s thinking of a story in my painting. I copied the style of the Medieval and Renaissance painters who place a raised finger on their saints, pointing to heaven, which is where, as far as I can tell, Kipling surely spent most of his life.


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Professional Expressionist, portrait painter, writer, children’s book illustrator, entrepreneur, and adventuress.

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  • blamo
    blamoover 6 years ago

    Fantastic ………………… the man who would be king is a hidden gem ( Enjoyed your write up also )

  • Thank you blamo for your kind words. One of my favorite movies, yes.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • gladders
    gladdersover 6 years ago

    The Jungle Book…rikki-tikki-tavi….wonderful stories. Beautiful painting again Barbara. Love the vivid,bold colours! Great narrative too.

  • Oh Simon, I knew you’d love Kipling. Thanks for your words, glad you like it.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

    KEITH R. WILL...over 6 years ago

    very colorful

  • Thank you Keith. I started in subtler tones but he took over, so much color in him!

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • SandeElkins
    SandeElkinsover 6 years ago

    Oh my, Barbara! You’ve done it again; you’ve captured the spirit of your subject so beautifully with both your vital and energetic brush stroke and your vivid prose that brings it all so beautifully to life. What an outstanding artist you are and I think you must see your kindred spirit in this gypsy, this adventurer, this visionary, and amazing writer of prose that painted images in the readers minds as lively and gorgeous as that on any canvas. I loved Rudyard Kipling when I was a young girl. He, Mark Twain, Jack London and Dickens probably my first introduction to true literature and something besides Dick and Jane and Mother Goose. Thanks for reminding me. I may go searching for some of their books once again. I’m in need of getting lost and certainly desire some excitement and adventure.

  • Dear Sande thank you. And we share favorites, London and Dickens and Twain all adored by me. Yes, take off with Rudyard into some sweltering marketplace and meet strangers who become friends. As always, so kind of you to write such lovely things.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • Heather  Rivet  IPA
    Heather Rivet...over 6 years ago

    fantastic well done

  • Much appreciated, Heather. Many thanks.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • alistair mcbride
    alistair mcbrideover 6 years ago

    Great looking portrait Barbara,the man who would be king,one of my favorite movies.

  • Me, too, great movie and cast and the prologue with Kipling in the little newspaper office. Thanks so much Alistair.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • whisperingruth
    whisperingruthover 6 years ago

    Dear Barbara, Lovely to have you back! Another wonderful addition to your outstanding porfolio! This piece is certainly created in your signature style my Dear Friend!! Top notch!! xx

  • Ruthie! Great new picture of you and Lola, you both look beautiful! Thanks, good friend, I’m so glad you like the Kipling, and always love to read your comments. Yes, really abominably frenzied month, trying to return to see all I’ve missed from those I so love here. xxoo

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • whisperingruth
    whisperingruthover 6 years ago

    You always bring out the best in your subjects Barbara………this work is absolutely splendid Darlin’!! xx

  • David Harris
    David Harrisover 6 years ago

    This is in a class of it’s own!! You must be so pleased with this!! I would love to have your talent to produce such brilliant work!!

  • How kind, David. Many thanks. And when I finally get a good camera…well, better pictures. I am pleased with the painting, it was a great experience.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • adgray
    adgrayover 6 years ago

    Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” is the most influential book of the majority of the world’s youth … Baden-Powell based his scouting for cubs on this story and 100 years on we scout leaders the world over still use it’s principles every week to encourage young boys and girls to develop their leadership citizenship and bush craft skills.
    You have given me the rest of this great man’s life and have captured how I would love to have seen him. Thank you :o)

  • He’s amazing, isn’t he….and thanks, adgray, for all the additional history. We have NO IDEA the effect of our works on the present and the future, the people touched. Kipling was fortunate to have a glimpse of what he added to our lives, but he’d have been amazed and moved by his endurance. I’m so pleased you like the portrait.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

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