Archive for June, 2008

BP Portrait Award 2008- NPG

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I went to the opening of the BP Awards last week and the announcement and dinner on Monday evening which was lovely. Ian Hislop announced the awards and gave a great speech…extremely funny infact. “I don’t know a lot about art…..no that’s it” was his opening gambit.

Overall I enjoyed the show but as many are now saying there is a little too much photorealism. I remember back in the mid 90’s when there was only the excellent Philip Harris and me doing it and and then the show was criticised for being too much like Freud and Euglow in style. It has certainly turned right around but those mid 90’s shows did seem more varied. I think it is the impact of digital photography over the past  5 years or so has made a big impact. It has absolutely revolutionised the way that I work and I love photography more than ever before now. The digital revolution is just wonderful and I think artists/ painters are captivated by the ease and absolute  control you have with  digital photography and it’s seemingly limitless possibilities that they want to incorporate it into their work. Certainly I never leave the house without a little snapper, even the cheapest little cameras give excellent quality results and I’m snapping and thinking  all the time and the images are so disposable you can take as many pictures as you want and review them when you get home. Just incredible,  and I think this is the reason that we are seeing so much photorealism at the moment, artists are just responding to modern technology, as I think they should.

My own personal favourites are Jason Walkers “Natalie” which I think should certainly have made the shortlist again, great use of pattern in a painting and beautifully muted tonal colour and the Mexican artist who came second in 2006 Raphael Rodriguez Cruz with a portrait of a woman with so much pain in her expression it almost reduces you to tears just looking at it – very powerful I think and nice to see Paul Benney again, one of the past heavyweights from the competition with his beautifully composed Californian looking swimming pool portrait.

June 22nd, 2008

Portrait of Doreen – completed

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This is the portrait that I have been working on for the past 5 – 6 months I think it was. I have previously made an update when I finished the figure and the two dogs and here is the finished painting. It is nearly 4′ tall so it’s quite a big one and is acrylic on fine grain portraiture canvas. I wanted it to be quite a bright and vibrant painting so I have used a lot of complementary colours with the reds and greens which are two colours that I think work beautifully together if you get the right tones so the green of Doreen’s jumper works just right with that tone of red in the sofa and her hair. The sofa was quite a challenge and took about 6-7 weeks to complete, people can’t believe that I want to do that kind of detail but I think patterns in paintings work extremely well , like this sofa or maybe a William Morris print or something like that, especially when juxtaposed to a flat area. I wanted to get something of Doreen’s petiteness so I thought that it would be a good device to plant her in the middle of a large sofa with her foot just resting above the floor. As I say I wanted it to be lively in colour, almost Fauvist in some ways, but I also wanted to get a calmness and a stillness to the portrait which is where their wonderful dogs came in. Having them rested and almost asleep gives the restful quality which I was looking for and in some way they also seem like they are guarding Doreen. While I was doing all of the preliminary work at their house the dog on the left kept licking my face and ear at every opportunity and was extremely friendly. As I said previously it’s the first time I have ever painted dogs in a portrait and they were lovely to depict and really add to the overall composition, – (but please, no requests for pet portraits, even though I love dogs).

June 22nd, 2008


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