This is my best friend, Tim Jackson’s grandfather, Dennis Jackson. Tim was very close to him as he grew up. He died some time ago.
In doing this piece, I was lucky enough to have access to a photograph that was quite beautiful in itself. I don’t know very much about him, but I could see his gravitas, his dignity and kindness, in the image. It was a common 19thc belief that our sins would age us, and impress upon our features their ugliness. If that is so, then Tim’s grandfather must indeed have been a good man. I hope that I was able to capture the gentleness and goodness that were obvious to me in the photograph.
I painted it in four or five days, or at least that is what I remember (which is never too accurate when not concerned with text.) Though saying I did finish it in that time doesn’t really convey the amount of work that was necessary… I worked for 19 hours or more, punctuated with four or five hours of medicated sleep, each day. If I had dreamed, which as far as I know, I never do, it would have been of paint.
The problem with this was not so much that I needed to do this, but that I needed to do this piece immediately after completing the Locke family portrait, where I had worked similar hours, and for a longer time.
Such results, though. This is one of the most satisfying jobs that any person could ever have. I begin the day with some artistic materials – some paint, some canvas – and at the end of the day, or week, or month/s, I have something beautiful that was not in the world before I started. Tim’s reaction was powerful to me, and I shall hold it in my heart for the rest of my life.
There is a little more to it, though. I use high quality materials – they are actually called “archival quality.” A piece such as this should last for generations, if not centuries. Members of Tim’s family – his children – will be able to see through the translation of human hands and paint and time, the warmth of their grandfather. And so should Tim’s grandchildren.
The most important reaction to me is that of Dennis’ wife and Tim’s grandmother, Ellen, and I should see her soon. I know her and she is an extraordinary woman. I look forward to it keenly.