Monday, 10 December 2012

NCRI





I spent Friday at the offices of the National Cancer Research Institute in Islington, where this large self-portrait was 'unveiled'.

The story behind the painting is a rather complex one, which I will write about more fully another time.

In short, following my initial treatment for breast cancer in mid 2008 I wanted to depict my own continuing beauty and femininity – after surgery which deeply challenged those feelings by changing my body.

Adopting my preferred technique of painting from life using a mirror, I worked on the painting straight after finishing a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The painting was completed in March 2009.

The painting was not what I had envisaged. I think the anger I felt at the time is apparent, and that the painting is quite confrontational. I had used myself as a model for as long as I could remember, and I suppose I was challenging myself not to allow this to stop – not to hide – because of my mastectomy.

The finished painting became the nucleus of the Breast Cancer LIFE travelling exhibition, and when that concluded I donated the painting to the NCRI.

I am deeply honoured that they should have chosen to hang it, and have done so in a very public area of the building in which they are housed with Cancer Research UK. It was wonderful to meet so many of the staff there, and I am immensely grateful for their hospitality and the interest they have showed.

The two top photographs show me with the painting alongside Dame Janet Husband, Chair of the NCRI; Dot Browning, my colleague and collaborator on Breast Cancer LIFE; and Alison, one of my models.

The photograph below was taken in my studio while I was working on the painting, and gives an idea of the approach I took.

I was kneeling, in order to concentrate on my torso, and was using my right hand to paint (you can see I'm holding the brush) and then check the large mirror which was to my front-left. I worked in natural light, but had a blind half-down to provide some privacy. This photograph shows the painting-in-progress, and you can see that I was having to work particularly hard on the right arm as it was this that I was continually moving as I painted.

It was a tough picture to paint, but I'm very glad I did it.




Thursday, 29 November 2012

Martha




I reserve Wednesdays for figure drawing, and I've recently been sticking with pencil as I want to concentrate on the line.

These poses were inspired by the model Martha, and by the work of Gwen John.

There are more on the Drawings page of my website.

I'll be adding some more in the coming weeks.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Back To Tresco





I haven't had the best of summers. In got ill in May, and ended up on a lengthy course of chemotherapy.

With that behind me, here are my latest paintings. I sat outside on the beach at New Grimsby on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly – one of my favourite places in the world – and painted these on canvases roughly 3' wide.

It wasn't freezing cold, but the wind was quite strong. It was exhilarating to be in such a beautiful and inspiring place, and to be painting in situ.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Selling Out


I haven't got many seascapes available for sale at the moment.

Those which I do have are currently on show at Gallery Tresco, and can be seen here on their excellent website. They're priced very competitively.

I plan to paint some more later this summer, but I don't yet know when.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Flowers




I said in my last post that I'd been working on a number of flower paintings lately.

Here they are.

I wrote a few years ago about how I don't believe that paintings such as this are a 'soft option' for any artist – and how such subject matter presents a number of challenges.

Fortunately the studio was very cold this spring, limiting somewhat the natural movement of the flowers as they sought light.

The positioning of the flowers is crucial to the way I work, as I relate each flower to the others across the space. At the same time I try to capture the freshness and character of the flowers, which gradually diminishes as the painting progresses.

It is important that the painting retains this 'life' – as that is what appeals to me and drives me to continue in this discipline.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Narcissi & Tulips



A friend brought these beautiful flowers round last week, and – inspired – I went straight to the studio to paint them.

I've been working a lot on flowers in recent weeks, but haven't posted any here or on the website until now.

I'll put some more up tomorrow.

I am also currently planning an open studio event for next month – opening my studio to the public for the first time. I'll post more details of that too.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Dorelia In The Rain



I've just finished a large scale (168 x 152cm - 5'6' x 5' ie. more than life size) painting of my daughter Dorelia.

People who know my work will know that I love the river Stour. It felt right to paint her with the Stour in the background.

I had a green dress similar to the one she wore when I was her age. The painting therefore has a number of personal connections and connotations for me.

The painting is based on a number of sketches I made down at the Stour. On one occasion while Dory was posing for me it started to rain, and her skirt blew in all directions as the wind gusted around us – and it was this moment that inspired the pose for the painting.

My working methodology was similar to that I used for another large scale painting of figures in the landscape – The Thomas Children – a commission where I painted each of the children individually before working up the large composition based at Ringstead.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pictures From An Exhibition







Here are some more photographs from my visit to the Quest Gallery in Bath yesterday.

In addition to several of my river Stour paintings they are also hanging some flower paintings and seascapes, which you cannot see in these photos.

There is also an ink sketch of a black cat that belonged to a dear friend I shared a house with in London during my postgraduate student days.

The space is perfect. The gallery has excellent viewing distances, and a wonderful layout – with the hanging space continuing on the lower floor. This part of Bath is fast becoming the Cork Street of the south west.

Visiting Quest




I had a wonderful time yesterday visiting Quest Gallery's impressive new premises, and seeing my paintings hanging there.

I'll post some more photographs later today.

The exhibition is on for a few more days if you're nearby.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Filming




On Wednesday I was working in the studio with an excellent model, and we were joined by film-maker and journalist Katie Elliot, and her colleague – who were working on a short piece on video.

It was fun to have them work around us, and I snapped the photographs above while they were setting up shots.

I will of course post the results here when they complete the project.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Homage to the Hambledon Gallery



At the weekend I visited a local 'gem of a gallery', The Art Stable at Child Okeford.

I've often exhibited paintings there, and the owner – Kelly Ross – is an accomplished curator and art dealer who has a talent for putting on exquisite shows.

The current exhibition Homage to the Hambledon Gallery is no exception, and it held much personal interest for me.

The Hambledon Gallery is my favourite clothes and homeware shop. Tucked away in Blandford Forum in the heart of rural Dorset, I was lucky enough to grow up nearby – and I've been visiting and shopping there for longer than I can remember.

The 'Gallery' part of their name comes from the fact that when they first opened, nearly fifty years ago, the upper floor was run as an art gallery.

Kelly Ross has revisited many of the artists who exhibited at The Hambledon Gallery in those early days and put together this exhibition.

The paintings, prints and ceramics – by Mary Fedden, R.B. Kitaj, David Hockney and many others – are well worth a visit if you can get there.

I particularly coveted the ceramics by Richard Batterham, who produced much of his work in the tiny hamlet of Bryanston where I grew up, and where I still paint many of my riverscapes.

If you're close enough to get there before 11 February then do. It'll certainly reward your time and effort.

The photograph above shows my goddaughter Lucia admiring a Hockney print.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Seascapes & Riverscapes



My work seems to be being displayed thematically in different parts of the country. This wasn't a deliberate decision, just the way thing have happened.

An exhibition including a number of my riverscapes has just opened at the Quest Gallery in Bath (pictured above), and I have seascapes at Petleys in London.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see my nudes and figure work – they're in my studio. Just get in touch to arrange a viewing.