The journey from concept to canvas featured many strokes. And a few twists and turns.
Doris Rose likely wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“Creating this painting has reconnected me with the BVG community,” says the Class of 2009 graduate. “Collaborating with staff and the alumni team has been a wonderful experience!”
An accomplished figurative oil painter, Doris was chosen to paint a portrait of Eileen Daunt, former Head of School at Bayview Glen, who retired in August 2022, after more than 45 years at the school, as a teacher and administrator.
“My goal was to put the viewer in the shoes of a student meeting Mrs. Daunt in the stairwell – something I experienced myself as a student – capturing that warm smile and direct gaze,” says Doris. “Looking down on the subject is unusual, especially a leader, but in many ways, I think this suits her character and the way she puts students first. She is so interwoven with the fabric and growth of the school that it made sense to paint her in it — in the Crystal Staircase,” she says, referring to the main staircase in the Lower School building.
As an artist, whose style ranges from expressionism to realism, Doris had to navigate several obstacles from conception through the creation process.
“One of the main challenges was working from a low-resolution photo with backlit lighting,” she says. “Mrs. Daunt’s face was lit from behind, so I had to lighten the face and add detail using my imagination and knowledge of Mrs. Daunt.”
That deeper understanding of her subject was an added dimension that Doris relied on repeatedly throughout the creative process.
“As an artist, it’s rare to receive a commission to paint someone who means so much to you personally,” continues Doris. “Mrs. Daunt has truly been one of the most important influences in my life. Creating this painting gave me a way to express some of my love and respect for her and contribute to the celebration of her retirement.”
Doris’ ‘labour of love’ would stretch her even further.
“Once ready to paint, I first tested the composition and the surface material by painting a mini 9×12 version,” she says. “Then I started on the main painting with a charcoal under-drawing, followed by the first pass of paint to block everything in. The next few months were spent building layers of colour and refining details.”
Painstaking precision against a backdrop of multiple timelines.
“There were a few moments when I worried that I wouldn’t be able to work through these challenges for the deadline, so I’m glad I trusted that I’d eventually resolve the issues and capture the essence I was striving for in Mrs. Daunt’s expression.”
The portrait was turned into a photo in April 2022, before gracing the cover of ‘A Heartfelt Journey’, a commemorative magazine highlighting Mrs. Daunt’s history at Bayview Glen — in August 2022.
For Doris, whose hallmark is the use of classical techniques in her art, the work was still far from complete.
It would take several more months — until March 2023 — for the final artistic touch to leave its mark.
“Oil paintings take six months to dry completely as they cure through a chemical process when exposed to oxygen, unlike other paints that dry through evaporation,” explains Doris. “I had to wait another six months for it to fully dry before varnishing and delivering it!”
All told, painting Mrs. Daunt’s portrait was an 18-month journey for the artist, who personally delivered the final product to her alma mater in March.
“Bayview Glen has had a huge impact on me,” she says. “The school’s focus on individual mentorship and support meant I learned to take charge of my own learning and work ethic to get the best out of future environments. BVG’s emphasis on empathy, creativity, critical thinking, and community-building has helped me develop strong relationships with others and a deep understanding of different perspectives which are invaluable skills for me as an artist.”
The portrait will grace the walls of the school in the coming months, as a permanent, tangible tribute to Mrs. Daunt’s legacy.
And for the artist, the personal impact of her subject will continue to remain firmly etched.
“My own memories of Mrs. Daunt are ones where she removed barriers around me, making room so that I could get to where I wanted to go, and encouraging me to develop the confidence needed to get there,” recounts Doris. “School can be tough, but Mrs. Daunt was a supportive force for good in my life, and I will always be thankful for that.”