I am absolutely delighted that “Man and Woman” has been shortlisted for the Theo Paphitis LGC Art Prize. Out of 837 submissions, they shortlisted just 11 artworks, so I am feeling extremely grateful that the judges chose my work to be amongst the finalists.
It is a painting that has taken rather a long time for me to finish (I wrote more about the painting and how I recently repainted it here). I have had a troubled relationship with this piece. I started working on it during a time of great loss and pain. It has spent ten years in an unfinished state. I could not work out what was wrong with it, but I suspect unresolved feelings from that time made me feel uncomfortable working on it.
Anyway, it’s finished now, and it’s so encouraging having such a personal piece being endorsed by the judges. Working alone in a studio, it is all too easy to start having doubts about particular paintings and projects. Will people understand them? Will anyone make a connection with my work? So a big thank you to the judges – Kate Brinkworth, Tom Croft, Brian Reed, Jayne Kay, and a special thanks to Theo Paphitis who set up and supports the LGC Art Prize.
It was a wonderful and quite lavish awards ceremony. Theo Paphitis must be congratulated for hosting this excellent addition to the Arts calendar. Tom Meads was the deserved winner with his painting ‘Stoic’. You can read more about the three different winners here: theopaphitis.com/my-blog What I particularly enjoyed about the judges’ selection was that they chose works that actually followed the theme “connection” – not always the case with themed shows.
One very nice touch was how, after the awards ceremony, they then gave each artist a goody bag full of art materials. I’ve not seen that in any competitions I’ve been shortlisted for before, and I was incredibly pleased with that little surprise. I left feeling like a winner. Artists are so easy to please 🙂
London Graphic Centre is a treasure trove of art materials in the heart of London. Here is their website: londongraphics.co.uk
“Man and Woman” is a painting that I thought was finished over ten years ago. I’ve suffered years of nagging doubts, and a real reluctance to show it publicly, such that I finally decided to rework it. It was only going to be a small amendment, but in the end I had to repaint the entire surface.
It’s debatable about how much the revision is an improvement. The poses are almost identical. Some people might prefer the earlier version. That’s irrelevant. I feel that the later revision is much closer to the painting that I tried to produce in 2009. Although the original version was no doubt true to the reference photos I was working from, I don’t think it captured a true likeness of the female figure.
I should explain something about the background to this painting. My partner had just passed away after a long illness, and in a splurge of activity I set about working on a series of paintings that recorded my lost partner and our relationship. Most had been planned while she was still alive (I had taken reference photos and made preparatory sketches), but sadly her poor health meant I was unable to work on them at the time. This was the last of that series, and for some reason it was the only one I was unhappy with.
The problem with resuming work on a painting after such a long time is that my painting technique has changed over the years. I still start with a monochrome underpainting, but my palette of colours has changed considerably, I use different mediums, and my use of glazes has become more restrained. Nevertheless it was an interesting exercise. The photo below shows a lighter palette in the revised painting.
Another interesting aspect of this exercise is that I no longer have the original reference photos. Much of the work on my late partner’s face was done from memory, which would normally have been outside my comfort zone. One area where my painting has changed is that I am less beholden to reference photos, and feel more confident to wander off track. I believe that I have achieved a better likeness here by doing just that. In writing this post, and looking at photos of the two versions side by side, it does feel like a lot of work for only a small change. But it was worth it. I feel happier showing it now.
Edit: “Man and Woman” has since been shortlisted for the LGC Art Prize 2023 A recent post about the competition can be found here: LGC Art Prize