Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Hotchkiss School, a honored commission to paint the Head of School, Dr. Kevin Hicks

                                                       Dr. Kevin Hicks, Head of School
                                                  The Hotchkiss School,   36 x 26 oil on linen, 
                                      Collection The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecitcut

Your work is beautiful and flattering, and I appreciate your meticulous attention to detail, craftsmanship, and warmth….
With sincere gratitude, Kevin

Dr. Kevin M. Hicks '85
Former Head of The Hotchkiss School
 Current President
Stevenson School

Thanks so much for this great work of art...John

John P. Tuke
Chief Financial Officer
The Hotchkiss School


In April 2015, I was contacted by John Tuke, the CFO of The Hotchkiss School for a  commission to capture on canvas the current Head of School, Dr. Kevin Hicks. I was delighted and honored to have such a prestigious commission. The Hotchkiss School is one of the top preparatory schools in the Country. Both my brothers went to Hotchkiss, and I can still remember watching my brothers play soccer on many beautiful crisp colorful fall afternoons.

  I traveled to The Hotchkiss School  to meet with Dr. Hicks and to see where the portrait would hang. This opportunity would also help decide the portrait setting and composition. It was a delight to meet Dr. Hicks! He was so warm and engaging, and an attractive man with blue twinkling eyes and a easy friendly and sincere smile. Dr. Hicks earned a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton. He also served for 5 years,the Dean of Berkeley College at Yale University. A very accomplished young man! After my meeting with Dr. Hicks, I was given a tour of the Main building and viewed potential staging areas with the helpful Curator, Joan Baldwin. 


 The size of the oil portrait was decided, along with where the portrait would hang. Because the portrait would have a simple background, I asked if there was anything meaningful and special to Dr. Hicks that we could include, not only for composition but also to give the portrait a more personal  meaning. Joan mentioned that Dr. Hicks was  fond of a special antique chair, which has been in the school's collection for long time,( the matching desk was in Dr. Hicks' office). I thought this would be a fine  addition to the composition, see below:



I decided that the large seminar room was the best spot to pose Dr. Hicks. The lighting is wonderful, particularly  with the two walls  in the alcove (looking  out towards the front circle)  softly reflecting the morning light. Two weeks after the initial meeting, I returned to The Hotchkiss School to take the reference photos for the portrait of Dr. Hicks.


Seminar Room view from outside main building entrance

Seminar Room with  staging set up

After the photos were taken, Dr. Hicks and I reviewed together and selected the photo(s) that we thought would work best for the portrait and evoke Dr. Hicks' warm, thoughtful and spiritual nature.


Photo reference for the portrait

          Now, I am ready to get to work!


 Below are stages of the portrait development: first, blocking in the masses, then building and refining the details.

To see more of my commissioned artwork and painting, please visit: www.SusanDurkee.com