Archive for September, 2010



My portrait of Alan Garner which I actually finished back in March gets its first outing today at the Grosvenor museum ( 27 Grosvenor Street    01244 402455 )in Chester. It’s part of the 50 th year celebrations since Alan’s book The Weirdstone of Brisingamen was published. There are a number of events from 18th September to 28th November 2010

 I also made a one hour film to accompany the painting which is a kind of video diary documenting the process of making the painting. It’s the first film I’ve made and as an keen documentor an enjoyable process and hopefully record.

September 17th, 2010

NPG Commission

I’ve had a few meetings with the National Portrait Gallery recently and finally we have come to a sitter as part of the first prize when I won the BP Portrait Award in 2006. I’m not sure if I can say who it is yet but so I’d better not. I can reveal that it’s a man though so that narrows it down to around 30 million in the UK.

September 17th, 2010

New sitters


I think I mentioned that we are having a 4 person group show based on Portraiture which is scheduled for next March at Plus One Gallery. Phil Harris, Simon Hennessey and Craig Wylie are the other 3 artists. Just as a taster here are two of my sitters who I intend working with who I’ll just call Ray and Andy for the moment.

September 17th, 2010

Artist visits Walsall


My artist friend Mike Gaskell and his family came over the other weekend which was great. I’ve known Mike since around the end of last century ( which sounds like about 100 years ago) but we met at the BP Portrait Awards when we were both shortlisted and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. He came second back in 1999 I think it was ???   second again in  last years and incredibly again this year and if I’m honest I think it was a better painting than the one which won.

 Here we are in my studio in an homage to Gilbert and George.



September 17th, 2010

The Smithsonian Institute – new exhibition – Americans Now


The Smithsonian Institue in Washington D.C has recently opened a new exhibition called Americans Now .  Quite an apt title because it says exactly what it is on the tin. It features 2 of my paintings which are in the Smithsonian collection , portraits of Cormac McCarthy , who is often refered to as America’s greatest living author, who , quite by chance I met when I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico through my gallery over there and painted his portrait. The other is of Murray Gell Mann whi is a Nobel prize winning scientist.

Looks like a great show with pieces by Chuck Close and Bill Viola. It’ on from August 20th 2010 – July 10th 2011 if your in Washington and have got half an hour.

follow the link for more information;


September 17th, 2010

TV – Sherlock and True Blood


I really enjoyed watching Sherlock recently. It did have a bit of a Dr. Who feel to it though which I really don’t get and can’t quite understand why so many people think Dr. Who is so brilliant. I’m a bit of a Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle obsessive  and love the stories so I really liked the links with the old text like Dr. Watson returning to London from Afghanistan. While no one matches Jerremy Brett as Sherlock on TV Cumberbatch ( think that’s his name) was great , (I think the side kick out of Lewis would also have been good.)

My other TV obsession at the moment is True Blood which is fantastic pulp tv. I’ve been watching the box sets and it’s incredibly addictive. The opening titles are just about the best I can remember on TV and the whole show captures that seedy andmystical make up of Louisiana and New Orleans.



September 17th, 2010



 Here’s a drawing that I did recently of our friend Sam looking quite the Vamp.

size : A3 charcoal, carbon and graphite

September 17th, 2010


I was chatting to a curator a while ago who basically said are “you’re still doing the Portraiture then”, with the inference of why don’t you try some of the more contemporary stuff like video or installation . Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not closed off to that kind of thing at all, I love Marc Quinn and Hirst’s early works in taxidermy I think  were the high points of the British art boom of the 1990’s but for me it has always been an always will be Portraiture. Since I was about 22 and the penny dropped with me that I like painting and engaging with people most of all and that has stuck with me over the past 20 years. I basically came to the conclusion back then that “people are interesting” and it was that seemingly obvious realisation that has driven everything I’ve done since. If anything , my interest has been heightened over the years. I love painting people and visiting them and making photographs and drawings and then the final painting or drawing. While I’m out and about I’m constanly looking at people and thinking they’s be a fantastic sitter and quite often I’ll approach people and arrange a sitting or while I’m in a foreigh country I’ll just go up to people. It’s a bit of a chance really but what’s the worst that can happen , they say no. In fact 95% of the time they are intrigued and just go for it. So, basically I’m just celebrating the fact that portraiture is a constantly profound and inspiring genre for me to work in and I never get bored of it because of that simple observation 20 years ago that ” People are interesting”. Please don’t think I compare myself to any of these giants but I wonder if the curator would have said to Freud, Bacon, Aurbach, Warhol,  Close , Sanders , ” You know this  Potraiture game…”

Somethig people often ask me is why I don’t exhibit my photographs in shows. I love photography as much as painting and drawing, especially since the digital revolution and you have total control of an image. I love doing photographic sittings and creating avisual dcumentation of a meeting. I find photography so intense during a sitting that I am exhausted after a session which I never feel from painting. But, I don’t consider myself a photographer, where I do consider myself a painter. I guess I use a camera as a sketch book and very rarely leave the house without my little compact snapper ( I use an SLR for sittings).I find digital photographs very precious even though they are snappy and disposable and i’m an avid documentor. I always think that when you travel somewhere with a camera your visual experience is amplified 10 fold. I have a friend who currently lives in India who has no formal art training but is a fantastic photographer, he just has the eye and takes so many photographs on his travels in the far east which would look brilliant in any Sunday magazine.  I’m always a litle disappointed with my travel photographs and they are really nothing more than memory snaps. I use photography in a different way to my friend Alex . My photography scruitinises people in microscopic detail and I’m more concerned with getting lighting issues perfect. I know exactly what I want from a portrait and need to control the lighting and situation rather like an art director I guess which is why I think I tend to work inside rather than outside because outside I have less control.

September 17th, 2010


September 2010
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