It’s been a very busy year so far. I spent the first two months completing several large paintings and preparing for Surrey Contemporary Art Fair. My intention was to create statement pieces that celebrate colour.
Next came the fair itself, a fantastic experience, and an exhibition for our local art group. This was followed by a time of very hard work writing lots of lesson plans for classes that I’ve subsequently gone on to run in my home. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and helping them start out in art.
I have, however, been missing getting paintbrush on paper so I’ve made an effort over the past week or so to do a few ‘alla prima’ portraits on paper. These are very good for flexing the old portrait painting muscles as painting alla prima (wet in wet oil paint done all in one go) demands great concentration, and quick decisions on mark making and colour picking. You can’t go back and correct your mistakes more than once as the paint gets thick and muddy and looks a mess.
The beauty of painting onto paper is that the oil sinks into the paper leaving the vibrant pigment on top, giving the paintings a very different finish to oil on canvas. For this reason it’s best to do these in one day as painting layers on top of dry paint makes the colours lose their freshness and immediacy. I use ‘Arches’ oil paper, which looks and feels like watercolour paper. It’s very thirsty, so needs a layer of oil/turps on top so the paint and colour doesn’t dull.
These are the portraits I completed, each was done in a day (over an average of six hours):
I haven’t painted a little child for a while so I was happy to be able to get a photo to use of this little girl.
I started by putting down the big shapes of colour that made up the darks and lights of her face.
I softened and adjusted these, increasing the detail level and colour and tonal variations.
During painting, I realised the actual background colour from the picture I was using was far too strong so I softened it to echo the colours of the child’s face and clothing.
Cody is a singer who I’ve followed on Twitter since she got to the final of ‘The Voice’ a few years ago.
I loved her fierce style and attitude then, and I was inspired by recent photos she posted on social media to ask if was ok to paint her portrait.
Happily she agreed and I really enjoyed painting her, the angle of her face and her make up were the biggest challenges in this picture.
I had the opportunity to paint a baby, and jumped at it, having enjoyed the child portrait and the challenge of the differing proportions and subtle skin tones that it brought.
This was great fun to paint, little children and babies really do have a subtle colour quality to their skin that is very interesting to try to capture.
It’s also a lot trickier trying to paint in facial features as they are so differently proportioned to those of adults.
We were posed the challenge of ‘geometric’ at art group the other evening.
I wanted to combine geometric shapes with a portrait and while that’s a task that I’ll complete another day, the subject who inspired me is an abstract artist specialising in geometric patterns in strong colour called Adolphus Lindo.
Adolphus kindly agreed to let me paint him. I needed to keep the colour strong as he loves it so much, and I like how his pose makes him seem like he’s dreaming. I tried to integrate the colour into the portrait itself slightly and I like to think it suggests he’s dreaming in colour.
I also managed to record a timelapse of the painting of Adolphus:
I hope you like these. If you have any questions about my work, just ask!
If you would like to commission me, find out more on my commissions page.