Portrait Artist based in Mid Devon
Prize Winner and Exhibitor at the Royal West of England Academy Annual Open Exhibition 2019
“As for myself, I work the way I do because of the kind of person I am – my work is an expression of myself. It reflects me, my fascination with people, the physical world around us, and the exciting medium in which I work. I do not claim that my way is the best or the only way, it is simply my way. It is an expression of myself, of the way I think and feel.” _ Arnold Newman, A life in Photography
My current body of work has developed through an interest in the representation of character through portraiture by utilising the qualities of Gesture, Persona and Pose. These features became relevant in my practice as I wished to move away from the conventional self-portrait while still conveying something of myself in my work. By exploring the role of photography as a painting aid, I subsequently found that some work translated better in this format. Therefore, questions around the relevance of painted portraiture in the modern, digitized environment of contemporary art arose. I have attempted to answer these questions around the Painted Portrait Now by using Isabelle Graw’s concept of paint as a Success Medium and its portrayal of Vitalist Projections.
By re-learning the technical processes necessary for successful oil painting, I began to develop my process by exaggerating the gestural qualities of oil paint rather than using them simply to achieve likeness. I then attempted to highlight the inherent sense of human inter-subjectivity and intimacy within the work. This is significant because I prefer to depict people with whom I am close, such as my younger sister Sophie. She has a distinctive character which I want to reflect in my representation of her. She is a determined feminist who challenges the social constructs of what it is to be feminine through her appearance and uncompromising attitude towards female objectification. By utilising her confrontational gaze, a dialogue is created, enabling her persona to achieve a transcendence beyond the painting which engages and challenges the viewer. This intimacy gives the work a sincerity which can often be lost through mindlessly looking.
Because I consider a portrait to have dual representation; of the sitter, but also the artist, I find that my work becomes both introspective and reflective of my environment. This means that my work can move between mediums and subjects whilst embodying the same underlying concepts around character and persona. This freedom within the format of the modern portrait has been influenced by the work of other artists such as Cindy Sherman and Arnold Newman. Like Newman, the work I create could be considered a reflective self-portrait, made up of the people most relevant in my life and who unknowingly influence my practice day to day.