Stephen Martyn Welch has been painting portraits full time since 2005 and in that time he has become New Zealand’s leading portrait painter without question.
In this time he has developed a multitude of styles which are stunning. He has the ability to not only capture a likeness but is also able to transfer the sitters essence and personality onto canvas which is a rare and sort after talent.
From painting Governor Generals to homeless citizens, Welch holds onto one thing in mind when it comes to painting. ‘Everyone deserves a portrait.’
With today’s technology in canvases and refined oil paints, a portrait done by Welch will last many generations to come, 400 years is not out of the question. So when someone decides to commission a portrait they are in a sense capturing a piece of time that they are handing down for future generations.
Apart from being a talented painter Welch is also a TV presenter with his own show called ‘The Sitting.’ In the two series Welch interviewed and painted some of New Zealand’s most well known citizens. From super Mayors, All Black coach, musicians, actors, politicians & fellow artists, Welch engages each sitter in a light and comfortable setting, yet able to extract heartfelt and deeply personal stories from each sitter. At the end of each show the sitter has their portrait revealed in a unedited fashion as to capture the true response on seeing themselves in the painted form. At the end of each series all works were auctioned off for Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland raising over $130,000.
Following this all works plus another 20 selected private works were shown at the opening of the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington. And over the six weeks that the show was on, over 16,000 people saw the exhibition. Not bad for a milkman who taught himself to paint.
The highlight of his career was winning the 2012 Adam Portrait Award. A moment that he still remembers most vividly.
Everyone deserves a portrait.
Natural expression and alternating stylistic approaches depending on each subject, characterise Welch’s portraits which consistently present a “warts and all” image. “My engine is always running,” he says. “I ask my subjects to tell me the essence of their personality.”