Toil, trials & challenges

April 5, 2017


Welcome to my february newsletter. This month I've been busy working on some self portraits that I'm entering into the Sky Arts Portrait competition. For the entry you have to submit a self portrait and one other piece of work.

Doing a self portrait is always a challenge, not least because it inevitably involves many hours staring into a mirror and scrutinising oneself which isn't pleasant at my age! You have to be very truthful about what you are confronted with.

On the up side I found it interesting studying my face in such an uninhibited way without the pressure of having a client to please or the worry of the sitter getting bored. After all, I am the only person who has the patience and time to sit for me indefinitely.

  This portrait in pastels I did from life in the mirror – I was fairly happy with it but I wanted something with more drama and atmosphere.


 So I started this portrait (above) which I worked on for a couple of weeks-I had a lot of ups and downs along the way and felt it wasn't going anywhere- it had lost its freshness and started to look overworked which is often my weakness, so I decided to stop. I have come to learn that unfortunately, the nature of being an artist is that you spend a lot of the time feeling incredibly frustrated (reassuringly, I read that even some of the great Masters felt this way) When this happens its best just to walk away from it and work on something new .



I tried to get a physical likeness but also something of my character. Our perception of ourselves may not be the same as how others see us- a friend who came to my studio recently commented that whilst my self portrait was technically impressive she felt that the stern, intense expression didn't represent the smiley person she knows as me. I found this interesting because I think it perhaps portrays an unseen aspect of my character -when I'm in my studio at work in 'painting mode' I perceive myself with a resolute, slightly obsessive persona and do tend to look rather stern.



After a break, I decided that I'd come this far with the painting I may aswell persevere with it and after much agonising and late nights I managed to beat the deadline. This is the finished portrait- not really how I intended it to look but I'm still happy enough with it to submit as my main piece.


This is a commission I've also been working on this month – the client wanted a large painting of her parents but all she had was poor quality lo res snaps of them to work from. When I scanned them in and tried to blow them up they were pixelated with hardly any detail which made my job very difficult. But she was such a nice lady that I felt I had to do what I could and make the best of the job. Here is the finished result and I'm happy to say that she was over the moon with it :)

 In march I'll be working on a commission of 2 brothers as well as going to see the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate which I'm desperate to see- I've been meaning to get tickets for ages, I just hope they haven't sold out!


Bye for now



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