Approximately 30 years ago when I was studying art at Manchester University the world wasn’t full of digital devices or even computers of any type. Therefore, to a certain extent as an artist you only really experienced the work of other students on the same course. Occasionally renowned artists visited with their portfolios and did talks. There were always libraries with an abundance of historical material to use as reference and art galleries. Nowadays the world has made many technological advances, which gives access to artists all around the world. As a painter this resource is a valuable asset but can also be disheartening because the standard is so high. A great example can be found in London based fine artist Craig Wylie.
I first became aware of Craig Wylie’s immense talents when he won the coveted ‘BP National Portrait Award’ back in 2008 for his phenomenal painting entitled ‘K’. This formidable piece measures 210cm × 167cm and actually depicts Craig’s partner. Since then Craig Wylie has produced many accomplished works on an even larger scale. Not surprisingly this has gained him global recognition as an emerging light in ‘Hyperrealist Art’.
Even though I haven’t actually met Craig Wylie in person we have communicated via email on several occasions. Kindly he gave me an insight into how he actually produces these epic portraits. Like me his medium of choice is oil and he normally prefers linen (rather than cotton canvas) for its smooth, refined texture. As Craig’s paintings are composed of several layers he often works on many portraits simultaneously. Due to the large scale he often uses a step ladder and isolates different sections. Another clever trick he employs is working from images on his laptop so he can zoom in on certain areas.
On a trip to London a few years ago I visited Craig Wylie’s London gallery and got to see one of his actual portraits. The level of detail was pretty extraordinary and illustrates perfectly why he is at the top of his game. Even though on close inspection it was evident this was a painting it was devoid of any brush strokes. Certainly this meticulous effect has been achieved by many micro thin glazes.