When painting a portrait, Griffiths' objective is to capture the essence of his sitter's persona, not just a physical likeness. As the painting develops over the course of the sittings, so does the relationship between artist and subject and, ultimately, the appearance of the final painting. Griffiths describes this process in the creation of his portrait of actress Keira Knightley, 'what I found so interesting about the sitting, was that it was impossible to decipher how much of the real Keira she was giving. She was friendly and warm but, also guarded as someone in her position would have to be. How much was she acting? How much was she in character? If at all?'
It was these questions that ultimately informed his idea for the painting. The portrait explores the extent of which we all 'act' in our own lives; there is a social chameleon - to some extent - in all of us. Would a professional actor, who assumes and creates identities for a living, who has an absolute, single minded passion for it, be able to turn it off? Would they even want to? The finished portrait shows Keira with a subtle smile, genuine, though also suggesting there may be something she knows that the viewer doesn't. The mask, slipping for the briefest of moments, shows a hint of that smile, the glimpse of the real Keira.