Antonio Bosano, Pencil Portrait Artist.
I started drawing at a young age and stopped when I was twenty six. I don’t really know why I stopped. Time is a precious commodity to us all and I suppose I was heavily into other pursuits, not least of all recording music in my studio.
When I was ten years of age I became fascinated with comic strips and actually started creating them myself. I would generate space age stories and these would be passed around the common room by my teachers in lunch hours. They would become nearly as engrossed in the storylines as my friends, and I would always end each magazine with a trailer for the forthcoming episode. Of course this was before the era of home printing and I was always apprehensive about damage to my original work, but I have to say my fears were unfounded as everyone was very respectful. Perhaps I was lucky.
I lived for a while adjacent to a family and the two lads were roughly six years older than me. They were twins and one of them Anthony, inspired me greatly. He produced a marvellous comic strip of Jason and the Argonauts, and his father taught me ‘perspective drawing.’ I had never fallen into the Chagall world of people constantly flying; my characters were always firmly rooted on the ground, but I still wasn’t successfully relating what I saw to the image on paper.
As I grew into my teens, I developed a fascination with cinematic posters recreating a number of those iconographic images. I always loved the juxtaposition of portraits with key action scenes. It involved time consuming work but the summer holidays never dragged during lulls when I didn’t have friends to play with. My mother, who is a seriously accomplished artist and potter taught me about skin tones, and this crossover world between art and music then became two of my all consuming interests. I enjoyed writing as well, although my works on soccer and music never found a willing publisher. However that didn’t really matter. Success in life is often down to 5% perspiration and 95% luck.
Reactivating my art has sent me back more than four decades to a time when paper and pencil were rarely out of my hands. I have always been a keen observer of faces and people’s changing features under different circumstances. A pair of eyes can tell me many things about a person either when relaxed or under pressure, and I have always devoted much time to analysing them. I hope that fact is reflected in my portraits.
I have no thematic approach to my art unless you can describe “head and shoulders” in such a way. I will in the fullness of time draw most people who have made their individual mark on the world, and produce private commissions for people who wish to give that most personal of gifts to a loved one.
As far as the finished product is concerned I want it to be as accurate as I can make it, but I still want it to look like a pencil portrait and not a photograph. I always admired the way Stevie Wonder applied all the new synthesizer technology to his series of landmark albums in the 70’s. Whilst many musicians tinkered with the keyboard “envelope” settings in an attempt to convert the synthesized strings into authentic orchestral sounds, Wonder accepted the new technology for what it was; something new with its own distinctive sound. Yes, he could afford the cost of deploying a 40 piece orchestra on one of his songs but he saw no need and his recordings became synonymous with the new sound. That is my approach to pencil portrait art. It is not photography and I don’t personally believe any attempt should be made to replicate it.
I have been fortunate in my life, since left to my own devices I am never bored. When I was little my mother would intermittently come looking for me to see that I was alright. In fact I was always alright, lost in a world of lego, builder bricks, paper, pencils, brushes, paints and my first guitar at the age of four. I have observed teenagers doing nothing all day in their bedrooms barring texting and heaven knows what else in preparation for a Saturday night out. What a waste of time. What is happening to our interactive skills? The thought of texting a friend who lives opposite me, instead of crossing the road and spending quality time with him is just an alien concept to me. Launching a website is about improving myself and understanding the challenges that it presents. I am now considering a series of longer distance action portraits rather than total concentration on the head and shoulders. It gives me focus anyway to stay out of trouble! When I’m drawing a portrait it’s just total concentration with reflections on that person’s life. Time is of no consequence – six hours through to midnight can disappear in the blink of an eye and yet when I put my pad down I am invariably overcome with unbelievable tiredness.
In return for his 83 years the only item my father left me as a personal memento was a handful of written pages about his childhood which I found an engrossing read. I wish I had known he was producing in this way because I would have encouraged him to continue. He hated me being a couch potato for more than an allotted hour. He would never buy me a record (my mother would on the sly) but he’d buy me a guitar. You’d never get the guitar of your dreams on your birthday, but one that exceeded all expectations two weeks later. He would not be controlled by convention – he hated the card industry -and he was essentially an extremely serious man who loved to laugh at life. I suppose that’s precisely the person I am. There are times when I would like to be a different personality, but I cannot change. Maybe the majority of my output will hit the skip when I die, but at least my children will be able to choose their keepsakes from a multitude of items.
Being truly rich
I honestly never have enough time in the day and that’s just covering projects at home. I only wish I was rich enough to be chauffeured everywhere, since I could get so much more done on those long journeys. I hate driving – literally every minute of it. I am so conscious of time marching on for me now and there is still so much more to produce.
I hope for some of you looking at my portraits, the additional commentaries will fuel discussion amongst yourselves. I had no intention of rehashing material already freely available in the public domain, but rather to use this medium to air some long held observations.
After all, what is the purpose of a biography? If it is objective enough it should surely assist the reader in forming an opinion of the subject and how circumstances and people shaped his or her personality and life. We’re all capable of doing good and bad things in our lives, and ultimately we must be judged by our actions. What distinguishes public personalities from ordinary folk is the losing battle to protect and maintain their own privacy. My own personal view is that there is no firm foundation for establishing a relationship, either business or personal, unless it is based on entire honesty, but I am fully aware that people will go to unbelievable lengths to hide their “dirty linen”. An understanding of the private side of public personalities can say much about us all, and this I have sought to achieve within my ‘commentaries’.
One of the pitfalls of achieving notoriety is that acquaintances and friends may see fit to talk to biographers. In some instances their comments are insightful, balanced and even welcomed by the subject and on others occasions they may be truthful yet peripheral. Sometimes of course they are vindictive, less than accurate, and financially motivated. That is the price of “fame” as we know it. The many actions and deeds of the rich and famous naturally mirror what we are capable of doing ourselves albeit outside that “goldfish bowl.” For my part in producing these commentaries, I must accept criticism with good grace if I appear judgemental, however I prefer to think of it as being curious.
My own brand of cynicism is an attitude of mind, characterised by a general distrust of other’s apparent motives. I don’t have a general lack of faith or hope in the human race – the United Nations being an obvious example of mankind striving to avoid self annihilation. However, with the notable exception of some obvious “acts of God”, and in particular where large sums of money are involved, I don’t believe for a single moment that anything “just happens”. In any event, I twisted no-one’s arm to produce the plethora of material I have read in my lifetime, and which remains freely available to us all. All I can ask of my readers is to understand that I am merely attempting to add a coda to sources I have used, be it biographies I have read, documentaries I have viewed, and my own experience of people I have known whose anonymity I shall preserve. I am not attempting to “cash in” on personalities by generating “hack biographies” (I am a blemished character myself), but I am nevertheless no longer fourteen and as much as I might wistfully remember the thrill of teenage idolatry , I can no longer view anyone (famous or not) in such an unquestioning way.
Where biographies are concerned, any former /current matrimonial partner must be considered a primary source but that doesn’t mean the views expressed are entirely truthful. Equally, glowing testimonials from same sex friends can be largely irrelevant since it would be safe to presume the relationship would founder unless conducted on mutually agreeable terms. So for example, warm reminiscences from the actor David Lodge about his time with Peter Sellers playing with their latest cine cameras or train sets illustrates one facet of the man, but his treatment of second wife Britt Ekland suggests much more about his character.
I have not been able to write equal amounts on everybody because I am a product of my era. Portraits of 21st century stars are here on my website as a result of promptings from my youngest daughter. It pleases her and it will hopefully please others. I just don’t read about these people, and so I have no real observations to make. I hope no one will be offended by this fact. As for the website links, they are there for two reasons, namely; (1) to avoid rehashing material for all but the uninitiated and (2) because I believe they are informative and built with painstaking care, attributes I rather hope visitors will come to feel about my site.
Amongst my collection are people I professionally admire yet dislike as individuals, despite never having personally known them. Equally there are others like the late Eric Morecambe who, from all I can gather, was just a lovely man. You got what you saw. Perhaps with some I am more forgiving than with others. It could be a flaw of mine but I am opinionated like everyone else, and the purpose of a commentary is to air an opinion. Of course I will no doubt provoke the same accusations of bias that I regularly level at biographers myself. In my defence I am partly investigating the media and how it operates. For example, when a paternity claim is front page headlines for a major star, one can safely presume that a negative test result will be buried the following month on page seven. The “Sorry Elton” front page headline from that most vile of historic tabloids “The Sun”, only came about through the sheer bravery of a man who, whatever his sexual orientation, was more of a man than most men I have known in being prepared to take that paper on in the first place. When football crowds heckle him about his private life he outwardly (and possibly genuinely) chuckles. God bless him – he’s my sort of person whatever the tantrums and tiaras because he’s got guts.
I hope you will find someone amongst my collection who strikes a chord with you.