Mani’s Portraits…

Nick asked Mani if he would be able to write about his artwork and a little about himself for our college news blog. Below are two memorial paintings of Mani’s fellow soldiers, we thank Mani for sharing this with us.


After my last critique my tutor Nick Beall suggested that it would be a good idea to post my portraits on the college news blog, I was very pleased that my tutor thought I had the talent to showcase my work on the college news blog. I am glad I have been given this opportunity to post and write a few words about my portraits and myself.

I am originally from Nepal and at the moment I am serving in the British army as a Gurkha soldier. During my free time which is normally a few weekends, I like to draw anything that fascinates me. I am currently on the portraiture course.

At the age of 15 I entered an art competition which was held in Nepal where I was awarded the ‘Best artist of the Zone’, it was a relief and honour to have won as it showed hard work pays off as only artists can realise how much hard work goes into an art work. I have never taken any art lessons in my entire life, except before the art competition where Mrs Saroja Khadki  (Professional artist in Nepal) gave me some few tips on art.

There is no artistic background in my family history therefore I had no support from my family to enhance my skills and have a career in art. Only when I won the art competition did I have a little support from my mother. Since coming to UK after enrolling onto the portraiture course at the London Art College have I been able to once again work on drawing and paintings, use my techniques and skills in order to produce an artwork. Having this opportunity to create portraits again has enabled me to have the confidence to enter the art competition at the London Art College, where my portrait was selected as one of the finalists of the art competition 2011.

The portrait is of my late friend Ishor Gurung (Gurkha Soldier) who died while serving for the country in Afghanistan. His death was a great loss among us. In his memory I painted this portrait. I used water colours to paint this portrait. At first I lightly sketched an outline of the picture with a pencil in order to avoid any deep lines or marks on the paper. Before I started colouring the portrait I initially wet the paper. To avoid any unwanted lines and marks on the portrait, I had to finish the specific part before the paper dried up allowing time for the different colours to mix up in natural way. I have tried my best to capture my friend’s characteristic on my work. I have taken great care in choosing different colours in order to show the tonal value and effect of the light on the portrait. The bright/light parts in the painting is the paper itself which has been left untouched or lightly painted with a minimum pigments. This can be seen on the background where you can see the bright light falling on the wall and has been reflected. I had to mainly concentrate on his face and the boxing gloves as they are the main focal points in the portrait. To create a little bit 3D effect on the picture I have casted the shadow of his head on the wall on the right hand side increasing the pigments concentration.

The young soldier in khaki dress is also my friend (Suraj Gurung) who was killed in Afghanistan.  Again I have used water colour and same techniques here. I have worked from the lightest to the darkest part. The shadow on hat and the dress are very rich in pigments with the mixture of greys, purples and crimsons, which give them the cool colours. I have used layer over layer to enrich the colour pigments in the painting where necessary. The red edging has significance within the uniform that stands out in the portrait reflects the brave and courage. This portrait shows a smart proud soldier standing with his head held high.

Finally I would like to thank my tutor Nick for all his time, help and advice which in the future will help me to become one of the good artists of this generation.

Mani Kumar Moktan (Portraiture Course)

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