Seeing as my studio is also my kitchen, I had been confining myself to work on paper: pencil and ink drawings, charcoal, collage, mixed media, and aquarelle. Easy to store, easy to clean, and the food does not smell of turpentine.
This was not a hardship, since I love paper—its texture, feel and smell—and I am always on the lookout for different kinds: I especially like handmade paper made in India and Nepal. Regular readers are often bombarded with photos of my work.
However, I go to a local art workshop on Mondays, and our new teacher, a young artist named Josepha, has been encouraging us to try new things, including live model, printing and street art.
We are pretty free to choose what inspires us, and I have always had a yen to try my hand at portraits—difficult but interesting. This seemed to inspire everyone else, too, so Josepha had us doing the following exercise: using a photo of a person or of a painting, we had to paint in oil directly on paper, without a pencil drawing and without waiting for layers to dry.
Then, we had to paint the same person four times, but in different colours, and a restricted palette (two colours, plus white and black if needed). Here is mine:
And here is my friend Nadine’s:
She remarked the first one (top left) looked depressed, so I told her the second looks like a crook, the third is Satan and the fourth (blue) a vampire! As you can see a lot of teasing goes on, interspersed by coffee breaks involving cookies and sometimes cake. As a bonus, we have a studio dog, Josepha’s spaniel Odin.
Fortified by these experiments—plus the jokes, the encouragement and the cookies—I am at the moment obsessed with portrait painting in oil and, you guessed it, my kitchen smells like turps.
I have always been fascinated by hands, so have tried to include them in my portraits. I also like figures of people reading.
There is more inspiration—and, hopefully, progress—in the pipeline, my aim being to go on to paint friends and family. Apparently one should not do that in the beginning, because one becomes obsessed with the likeness to the detriment of everything else. We shall see.