Just who is John Newton?
John Newton became the main pillar of the Evangelical party in the Church of England during the 18th century. His writings and sermons were immensely popular and Newton leveraged influence in helping to end the slave trade. His early life, however, found him as a sailor and slave-trader in Africa. After some brushes with death, he made a spiritual conversion that led him to evangelical Christianity.
He also penned many hymns including the mainstay, Amazing Grace.
The crux of this book cover illustration for Crossways Books tells the story of Newton from his early troubled youth (lost in the woods) to his redemption and role with the Church of England (the Canterbury Cathedral on the right).
One of the benefits of illustrated portraits is they function perfectly when photographic reference is limited or low in quality. I've worked on a number of portraits and feel confident that I can work with any reference, no matter how small, lo-res, and out of focus the image may be. The references here were obviously historical depictions.
This is a charcoal drawing, accentuated and colored in Photoshop.