I did not ask my model about the scars on her arms. Despite working with her regularly and being on familiar terms, I never once broached the subject of those scars, and in my paintings of her I never showed them.
A couple of years after this sitting I read the book “A Little Life” by Hanah Yanagihara – a difficult and troubling read, but extremely moving. As I read about the main character’s self-harming and how his friends were all quietly aware of it, but never spoke of it, I thought again about my model bearing her scars in silence. That is what compelled me to find the sketches and photos from that sitting, and to produce this.
I think this painting is just as much about my own reaction to those marks on her forearms, and my awkward silence.
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 all the usual “experience” gifts are somewhat limited with covid restrictions. So what better gift can you give someone than a commissioned portrait 🙂
That moment when I sit down with the sitter can often be quite nerve-racking. On the surface I try to appear professional and reasonably competent, whilst I’m anxiously searching for the most suitable lighting and appropriate poses, and trying to decide how best to describe this person, who normally I have only just met.
This particular sitting went very well. It was a wonderfully bright day and the first location we chose turned out to be ideal. The sitter was very easy to talk to, and I very quickly had a good idea of how I wanted to paint him.
If you’re interested in commissioning a portrait, feel free to contact me via the email address on the Contact page. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.
I’ll be showing my diptych “unnamed portraits” in the London Ultra exhibition at The Bargehouse, London SE1 9PH. The show runs from the 6th to the 9th December, 11.00-18.00. Preview party is on the 6th December, 18.00-21.00.
I’ll be exhibiting “Arrangement on Red Carpet” at the “Art of Nude” exhibition, opening on the 21st September at V.23 – The Old Biscuit Factory, 100 Clements rd, Block F, London SE16 4DG
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.