Yesterday, after the Annual General Meeting of The Paisley Family Society, the portrait of Jane Paisley of Westerlea was unveiled in a brief and emotive ceremony. The painting was commissioned by Lady Westerlea's husband, The Much Hon. D. W. Paisley of Westerlea, 6th Baron of Westerlea, Chief of the Name and Arms of Westerlea and Chieftain of the Paisley Family Worldwide.
The first time I met Lady Westerlea there was an affable air about her. Naturally, she was also a little bit apprehensive. However, when she saw the painting almost complete I felt she began to breathe again. She smiled and embraced me spontaneously. That was the best reward for all the hours, days and months of toiling with my brush.
This project was most interesting. The amount of details in the composition required careful balance and a skilful execution. Following a planning meeting with Lady Westerlea, she sat for me twice in Ardtalla, their charming Victorian home. Of course, I spent hundreds of hours in my studio working on this painting.
For the first sitting, I had suggested a light coloured dress with a silk tartan sash. Instead, Lady Westerlea preferred a brown embroidered dress that had belonged to her mother-in-law and a Westerlea Tartan woollen shawl. Both items made a statement about her role: a loving wife who had embraced the family she married into and all that this family stands for. The juxtaposition of a delicate garment with a more serviceable material produced a fascinating effect. It was city and country life combined, perhaps revealing a facet of Lady Westerlea's delicate personality.
Lady Westerlea sat for me in a handsomely carved chair in her teal room, by the window and close to the fireplace, her favourite spot where she often does sewing. Her glance contained a mixture of Scotland, womanhood and determination; a triad that fascinated me. She resembled a monarch on her throne.
I was captivated by Lady Westerlea's serene gaze and I loved the way in which her beautiful brooch sparkled in the light.