Client: Prahlad Menon
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $3,250
Sarah Jacobs Art
oil and mixed media portrait on canvas, 2022, 36 x 24″
My client, Prahlad, commissioned me to paint his son, Arjuna. The family is Hindu and Arjuna was named after a character in the Mahabarata who went into battle with the god Krishna blowing conch shell instruments. Prior to the battle he received guidance from Krishna. That is the moment shown in this portrait, with Krishna represented as the blue light. The cloth that Arjuna is wearing in this portrait shows a pattern depicting the battle scene. I designed that pattern in watercolor and had it printed on cotton. I photographed Arjuna in the cotton and had that part of the image printed. This means that the cloth is a digital print on canvas of the photo of the cotton. The rest of the image is painted in oil paint.
The goal was to reference the story of Arjuna in the portrait of the client's son who is also named Arjuna. Because the boy is young, it would not have made sense to portray him in the battle scene. Rather, references to the battle are incorporated in the cloth pattern and the conch shell, but the painting focuses on the moment where Arjuna sought advice from Krishna, as a child would seek guidance from a father. It is fitting that his father commissioned this portrait.
I went back and forth with my client a few times to nail down the visual concept and I provided him draft sketches for approval. I then designed the pattern in watercolor with feedback from him and approval. After the pattern was printed I conducted a photoshoot with my client of his son under a blue light. I had a photo of the pattern on cotton printed on the canvas, and I then painted in the rest of the image including the boy, shell, stars, etc.