Portrait painting – I work mostly in oils, but also watercolour and pastel.
Below is an extract from Iris Murdoch’s ‘The Sandcastle’, the story of a young portrait painter, Rain Carter, who is painting Mr Demoyte, the school’s former headmaster. It’s a novel which I read many years ago, but this extract has continued to influence how I look at the sitter, and which inspires my search for character and ‘soul’ – the sitter is thinking, even in repose.
‘In the last light of the evening Rain Carter was painting. The old man’s face was of a withered golden colour, like an old apple, and marked with the repetition of a certain curve. Supremely this curve occurred in his lips, which Rain proposed to paint curling in a slightly sarcastic and amused manner which was highly characteristic of him. It appeared again, more subdued, in his eyebrows, which met bushily above his nose, and in the line made by his eyes and the deep wrinkles which led upwards from their corners. The multitudinous furrows of the forehead presented the same motif, tiny now and endlessly repeated, where the amusement was merged into tolerance and the sarcasm into sadness.’
When the portrait is finished the art master comes in to view it. Rain Carter stands by, nervously awaiting his comments. ‘Ah yes,’ he says, ‘a fine portrait, a fine head. But do you not know that behind there is a brain?’
Recent commissions include: Dom Paul Stonham, Abbot of Belmont; Dean Michael Tavinor and the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, both of Hereford; 3 portraits of Pro-Vice Chancellors for Worcester University; Elizabeth Hunter, High Sheriff of Hereford and Worcester; Claudia Bobadilla, Vice President of the University of Development, Chile, and wife of the Chilean Ambassador to the Court of St James. All these are oil on canvas.
ART CLASSES: multi-media painting and drawing