Today, my wife and I met Charles Burnett Esq. at the Royal Scots Club to present him with the oil study that I begun in the Summer of 2016. It was one of those overcast but incredibly bright afternoons, where the clouds formed the ideal backdrop to the skyline of Edinburgh, and the Castle stood proudly, looking down on the chimneys and roofs. It was the first time that Charles saw the painting since he had given me the last sitting in December. Since then I had painted the Tudor style bonnet of his uniform and added his armorial bearings.
This project was born almost a year ago, at the end of May, when a group of members of the Heraldry Society of Scotland were having lunch. I had been pondering over the idea of painting a portrait of Charles, because I admire and respect him very much, and as an artist I was also captivated by the painterly uniform of an Officer of Arms.
Those who know Charles Burnett will see all that he stands for; his encyclopaedic knowledge on heraldic and historical matters and the great contribution he has made to the Scottish culture. Yet, during our sittings, I got to know more about the man himself, a genuine gentleman of extraordinary warmth, who gives of his time and knowledge generously and who treats others with great deference and empathy. Once more, I feel that my life has been enriched by painting such a gentleman.
On a philosophical level, portraiture is a response to the human inclination to think about others and oneself. Therefore, I feel that my work consists in balancing this apparent dichotomy so each portrait represents the subject seen through my eyes. The painting conveys my interpretation and what I was able to capture, not at one moment, but over a period of time.
I would like to thank Charles for being so encouraging and coming over to Fife for the sittings. I am also grateful for his tremendous help with my personal heraldic research and petition.
Many thanks to The Much Hon. Duncan Paisley of Westerlea for suggesting the idea to Charles.
Finally, I am very grateful for the generosity of those who contributed to the beautiful frame:
- Dr Joseph J. Morrow QC, Lord Lyon King of Arms
- Liam Devlin Esq., Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms
- The Much Hon. Charles Ross of Biggar
- Dr. Marten Baumgartner
- and a generous lady who contributed but chose to remain anonymous.