Goodbye to 2020

New Year’s Eve, 2020.
How will I look back on this year, I wonder?
It started in the spirit of hope, with a move to a new studio; “A fresh start” and all that. I was looking forward to working in a studio complex where artists actually used their studios, and said hello to their neighbours. Fast forward a few months, and we were all wearing face masks, awkwardly trying to keep our distance from each other.

New studio, fresh start

Just days after I’d got myself set up in my new studio, with paints and easel where I wanted them, lockdown happened. Studios were closed down, and normal life ground to a halt. No longer welcome in the marina, where I had been living on my boat, I had to take refuge in my girlfriend’s flat in London. No paints, no canvases. Just some pencils and a pad of Strathmore toned paper.

New model

Memory is a funny thing. I look back fondly to those lockdown months, where each day I would set myself a drawing challenge. In my fading memory, I imagine that I enjoyed searching my friend’s flat for suitable subjects. The truth was that I was desperately missing my studio.

drawing of glasses and wine bottles

But there is something special that happens when you spend long enough  drawing a subject. After a time, it’s almost as if a veil has been lifted, and you start to see another level of detail in the subject, that somehow evaded you before. So, reluctant as I was, I am now thankful that I had the opportunity to spend those long hours drawing a raggedy teddy bear, kitchen utensils and all my empty wine bottles.

portrait commission painting

The past year has been a disaster for my art practice.  Exhibitions have been cancelled – no sooner have I delivered my paintings to a gallery, another lockdown happens, and I’m asked to collect them before the show even opens. My commissioned work has been even more badly affected. Despite a healthy number of enquiries, potential clients are understandably nervous about posing for hours in a small studio, during these times of social distancing, and have delayed their commissions until next year.
A big thank you to the wonderful people who commissioned the above portrait for their friend. It felt so good to be drawing an actual real person, and not that raggedy teddy bear again.

Lockdown Commission

oil painting portrait commission

The Covid pandemic has been so very disruptive to my art practice, with commissions postponed, exhibitions cancelled, and my studio closed down for months.
But this particular commission was the exception, as it came my way because of the pandemic. A group of friends struggled to think of an interesting birthday present for their housemate, when the usual “experience” gifts are somewhat limited with covid restrictions. So what better gift can you give someone than a commissioned portrait 🙂

 

Art and Death

man on bed

The painting above has been selected for the “Art and Death” exhibition, organised and curated by Huunuu. 
“The gallery shows artwork from 19 different artists who have all interpreted the subject of death, dying, bereavement and legacy.”
As virtual exhibitions go, this works very well.  It has been well curated – There’s a nice selection of good quality artworks, which are all related to the theme. It’s well worth a visit, and can be found at huunuu.com//art-and-death

Autumn Salon Exhibition

preparing paintings for the autumn salon exhibition

Art exhibitions are like London buses. I wait months for an opportunity to show my work, and then I receive two acceptance emails in the same morning.
I’ve already mentioned The Discerning Eye in my previous post. I’m very pleased to have been accepted for that one – such a shame that the exhibition is virtual this year. The other exhibition I will be taking part in is The Autumn Salon, from 30th October, hosted by Candid Arts Gallery, Angel, London. That’s a real world exhibition – actual paintings on real walls, with real people walking about (albeit wearing masks, and suitably socially distanced).
I’ve had mixed feelings about getting involved in real exhibitions during this epidemic. However, the gallery at Candid Arts is a lovely open space – perfect for social distancing.  At the end of the day, there is just no substitute for seeing a painting in the flesh.

ING Discerning Eye

headless nude, self harm

I’m very pleased to learn that my painting “I did not ask” has been accepted into this year’s Discerning Eye exhibition.

The Discerning Eye annual exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics.
The selectors choose both publicly submitted works and works by personally invited artists. Each selector’s section is hung separately to give each its own distinctive identity. The impression emerges of six small exhibitions within the whole.