December 14th, 2016
Here’s a drawing by my old friend Reg Eldridge – painter, cab driver and jazz aficionado – who’s just turned up his toes at the age of ninety-seven. The drawing was made as a student at St Martin’s, after the war.
Reg decided to become a painter after seeing pictures by John Singer Sargent in the Tate Gallery in the mid-1930s, and went on to paint throughout his life, producing some beautiful work. I was lucky enough to be part of the life drawing groups he ran in Brixton and Putney in the 1990s, and his passion for observation, draftsmanship and working from the model had a big influence on the direction my work has taken since then. He gave me advice (some of which I agreed with) and a great deal of encouragement. More recently he gave me his easel.
After ill health forced him to give up painting some years ago, I asked Reg if he missed it, and he said that he didn’t – that of course he’d never produced anything that could compare to Sargent, but he knew he’d made the best work he was capable of, so had no regrets about stopping. I thought that was a pretty nice way to end.
A lovely man.
December 12th, 2016
Pleased to be sending out the first batch of Kickstarter rewards today – A6 prints of a selection of panel paintings from the past few months. Had intended to produce four – all predating the start of the the current project – but upped it to five to include one of the more recent sketches.
Now very busy working with dancers of Ballet Cymru. Currently have three canvases in progress, which I hope to finish in the coming weeks, and looking forward to our next studio sitting tomorrow.
November 14th, 2016
Funded by my Kickstarter campaign, it was great to have my first studio sitting with dancers of Ballet Cymru last week. Neither Anna Pujol nor Andrea Battaggia had ever worked with a painter before, and I’d had only a little experience of working with multiple models, so none of us quite knew what was going to happen.
What resulted was several hours of experimentation – planned and partially directed at the start of the session, though becoming more spontaneous towards the end, with the dancers arriving at poses through brief discussion and passages of flowing, improvised movement. This latter approach (developing some of my earlier work with Beth Powlesland and John Livingston in the studio, and with Deborah Lago and Angharad Harrop at the FreeHaus project this summer) was more directly informed by the dancers’ own ideas, and led to some particularly interesting and expressive poses, a number of which I look forward to working up on canvas.
It was an inspiring day, and a productive first step in my new project.
Big thanks to Anna and Andrea, who were excellent to work with, bringing an enthusiasm and creativity to the process which I hope I can reflect in the paintings.
Ballet Cymru is currently touring Romeo a Juliet and Little Red Riding Hood & The Three Little Pigs – both wonderful. See dates and venues here.
October 2nd, 2016
My Kickstarter campaign – Painting dance – runs until October 16th. If you are interested in my work, please consider supporting the project, which will enable me to focus on painting for a sustained period of time in order to develop ideas and techniques I’ve been working on with professional dancers over the past year or so. I’m very excited about it.
Rewards include panel paintings, canvases, prints and figure drawing workshops, so I hope there are some nice incentives to get involved.
Please find link here.
UPDATE – 17th October: Thrilled that the Kickstarter has been successful! Massive thanks to everyone who got behind it. Can’t wait to get to work!
September 28th, 2016
This photo does little justice, but Angharad Harrop gave a beautifully playful performance at the opening of the Culture Action Llandudno’s Freehaus exhibition on Friday.
Responding to the paintings themselves and to prompts from the audience, the dancer moved around the exhibition giving a commentary in Welsh, Portuguese and English, describing some of her experiences and thoughts about modelling at the FreeHaus project – both for me, and for the students in the workshop we ran last month. A real highlight of the Llawn Festival weekend.
I’m very grateful to Angharad for her enthusiastic involvement in this project. I learned a great deal about figure painting on a significantly larger scale than I’m used to, and made a number of technical discoveries that I know I’ll take forward in my future work – much of which was drawn from the model’s creativity.
For more information about Angharad’s practice, please see here.