I received a private portrait commission from a local homie in the hood which would really test my skills (gulp). I only take on a handful of life-like portrait commissions (acrylics on canvas-board) annually because they require serious patience, time and craftsmanship. I tend to paint large canvas boards and this one was 35″ x 28″ to be delivered to the Sheikh in Cyprus, so it HAD to be special..
The subject of the painting was Muhammad Hisham Kabbani or (‘Sheikh Hisham’ as he is also known by his legions of followers all over the world), an Islamic spiritual leader/scholar and ‘pir’ of the Naqshbandi/Haqqani Sunni Sufi Order. Born in Lebanon in 1945, the Sheikh is an advocate for peace and tolerance, which he promotes in his many international projects.
Working from a photograph, I tried to keep it life-like yet abstract to give it a unique appearance, something on the border of realism and surrealism. Therefore, a seamless blended background was air-brushed to represent a white shadow or ’emmitting light’ from the figure, so to speak. The turban, clothing, face and beard was all hand-painted. A black and gold frame to compliment the bright colours within the painting was added. I seem to have an obsession with black frames, trimmed with metallic finishes, but they always add an uber-classy touch to the paintings.
The brother who commissioned the portrait hand-delivered it to the Sheikh a month later and reported back to me that him and his close associates had approved of the painting. Smiles all round then!
What do you think? Would love to get some feedback from any followers of the Sheikh, please comment below!