Theodore Ryken in Bruges (30″ x 40″. oil on wood) was the first portrait commissioned by Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury, MA. Seeing as I’d posted sketches for this piece last year I thought I should follow up and show how it came out.
Ahhh, backgrounds. While I was painting this I kept asking how I got here, and wasn’t this initially commissioned as a portrait of Theodore Ryken? Why am I still painting all of these bricks?
Well, that’s what happens sometimes. This portrait was well received, and I’m pretty satisfied with my brick renderings placing Ryken (as a colleague commented), “in his natural habitat.” Ryken was responsible for the formation of the Xaverian Brotherhood, a group Catholic teachers focused on bringing education to the poor, hence the open book and outstretched hand. It was important to the client that the religious garments were accurate to the time, down to the detail of which side Xaverian brothers wear their rosary beads, and the proper height that the crucifix would be worn.