I’ve been working on ideas for a new series of paintings for a while now, and it has got me thinking about why I paint the subjects that I do, and what are the real themes and ideas that I am trying to explore. Why do I paint naked bodies and not flowers, boats or trees?
What springs to mind when you think “naked”? Exposed?.., self-conscious?.., vulnerable? These are what I feel when I imagine myself naked. Another person might say liberated or sexy. I know from the experience of showing my paintings over the years that people’s perception of nudity varies wildly. A large number of people, for instance, are simply unable to dissociate nudity from sexuality.
“Honesty”. If you strip a subject of all its decoration and embellishments, isolate it from its surroundings and props, are you left with the true essence of that subject? Does a painting of a person thus exposed actually say any more about their true character? Is it a more honest depiction than if they were in their chosen attire and makeup?
“Relationships”. In any depiction of a person who posed in front of an artist, there are at work dynamic relationships between the artist, the model and the viewer. Just as the viewer will bring along their own preconceptions of the artist and the subject, so the artist will, during the sitting, form their own opinion of the model’s personality. Subsequently, however they try to honestly describe what they see, the artist’s depiction will always be tainted by their own views. This is what distinguishes a painting from a photo.
“Identity”. Who am I? What am I? These are questions artists and philosophers have been asking through the ages. Although it seems impossible to ever give a truly honest account of the world around us, still they strive to achieve it. I wonder if, when a model poses, if I know nothing about the model, would I be better able to give an honest description of them? Or would the work be somehow diminished if I didn’t know who they were or what they do? I think it’s worth a go. Anyone interested in posing nude for this new series is welcome to get in touch. False names encouraged 🙂
Well, this years open studio event at Leegate House has been and gone. Many thanks to those that made the journey to this little corner of southeast London. Thankfully the heatwave abated, just for the day, and we didn’t all melt in our studios.
These open studios events are a prerequisite for studio providers to maintain their charitable status – to demonstrate they’re “engaging with the community”. In my experience, many studio providers will only make a token effort, and most artists will see it as an inconvenience.
I’m pleased to say that Bow Arts treated this event with a lot more enthusiasm than some other studio providers I’ve been involved with; as did most of the artists here in Leegate House – it was the most enjoyable open studio that I’ve taken part in. Some of the nicest conversations I had were with local people who’d seen a flyer in the local Sainsburys, and thought “I must go along to that”. I spend most of my time locked away alone in this room on the fifth floor. It’s actually quite nice opening the doors to the public once a year.
I’ve started work on a series of headless nudes. It’s a development of some figure studies I have been working on. I was interested in seeing to what extent a sense of the sitter’s identity could be conveyed if, first, they were stripped of their clothes, and then, as in the case with this painting, their heads were cropped from the painting.
I have three recent paintings on show at the Angel Christmas Fair this year.
The Angel Christmas Fair is an annual affordable art and design fair featuring the work of various artists and designers. The event will take place in December 2016 and will comprise all creative disciplines; painting, photography, illustration, fashion, textiles, jewellery, glass, ceramics and furniture.
I will be showing five paintings at the forthcoming “The Nude” exhibition, at Candid Arts Trust. Amongst them will be my “Feast of Venus – A Re-imagining”, for its first excursion outside of my studio. It will be interesting to get some feedback on this particular piece, having worked on it for so long.
I’m looking forward to seeing them all on display together. Four of these paintings are the major works that I have been working on over the past year. Hanging them together, in a gallery environment, will help give me a clearer view of how my work has evolved.
Candid Arts have their gallery at 3 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ. Preview night is on Thursday 29th September, 6-9pm. The exhibition is on from 30th September-9th October, open every day from 12-6pm.
I shall be showing a couple of paintings at the forthcoming 24WA Studio Show in Southend on Sea, which opens at the end of May. Being an Estuary Fringe event, it will be free, and there is sure to be some live entertainment for the opening night.
Since moving into my London studio, I’ve mainly been using the studios at 24WA for my life drawing sittings, as it’s more comfortable for the models than a draughty Fish Island warehouse. But I worked on these two paintings there over the Christmas period, when I first moved in. They were started over a year ago, and I think they mark a defining moment in my art, when I set out to explore different ideas in my compositions, and introduced some classical elements into a few of them. The photos below just show details.
The 24WA Studio Show is an Estuary Fringe event.
“The Estuary Fringe was created with the aim of taking art back from the pretentious art elites who have somehow insinuated themselves into the borough, and hand it back to the local community, to everyone, where it belongs.
The first festival in June 2013 was incredibly successful. Organised in just 7 weeks with no money and no idea what we were letting ourselves in for, we were blown away by just how well it all went, so we have decided to keep doing it.”