Following my Fifty Faces exhibition and a few months spent working on commissions that followed on from it I have been working on material for my next show, which will be in September at Bourne End library.
This is Angela Tilby, the Diocesan Canon at Christ Church, Oxford.
As it is Holy Week she seemed a perfect choice for my seventh face out of 50 in 2016. Angela recently visited Harpsden Church where I work as organist and choir leader. She was instantly likeable with a warm, lively personality and down to earth approach.
Well done to anyone on the blogging challenge who found this week’s blog! Last week was my first attempt – a short story, which a few people read and commented on (thank you!) It was deliberately different to my usual posts because it was for 29th February, the ‘extra’ day and a chance to experiment with being someone different.
The next day was March 1st and my 50th birthday. The official launch date of my fifty faces challenge. Of course, I had not been able to contain my excitement about this so I have already started painting them but this is my chance to be ‘Queen’ and have an official and unofficial birthday (or several).
The most recent in my bid to paint 50 faces this year. My running coach suggested Malala as a subject and initially I had reservations. I want to have a 50/50 balance of male and female faces but I was not keen to portray women who are famous for being victims or the wife of someone famous! However, when I researched Malala I realised she was far from being a victim. This was someone who was already publicly condemning the efforts of the Taliban to prevent girls from getting a proper education. Her writings contributed to schools in her valley being re-opened to girls. That was when the Taliban tracked her down and shot her through the head. Her response? When she had recovered she completed her education in the UK, wrote a book about her story and amplified her shout against the oppressors more than a hundredfold. Coming from any culture this would have been astonishingly brave, but from a country where women are routinely underrated she is absolutely astonishing.
It was a pleasure meeting soft-hearted, gentle cocker spaniel Pippa for a June photoshoot in 2015. Afterwards, her owners also sent pictures of how she looked as a puppy, and the result was two portraits of her, one as a youngster, and one as an old lady.
Six months later, I received a call from her hum an family, explaining that Pippa had recently developed terminal bone cancer behind one eye, which, tragically, will have to be removed. I was touched when a family member kindly phoned me and said they were glad they had got her portrait done before her diagnosis, and commented that they remembered I had gone to a lot of trouble to get her eyes right.
To celebrate my 50th birthday in March I will be starting a challenge to do 50 portraits over the course of the year. I am not sure quite where this will take me but I think it will evolve into a mixture of faces seen in the mainstream media and out of it. I will be looking for variety in features and life stories and hoping to learn a bit about techniques of portraiture on the journey. Watch this space for the unveiling as it goes and count with me as I aim for my target over the next twelve months.
If you would like to participate in the project as a model please contact me!
Lola is a miniature schnauzer full of character and energy. I was uncertain how long it would take to do the initial photo shoot for her portrait but she amazed me by standing absolutely stock still when her owner asked her to stay and she did not budge while I wandered around her with my camera taking shots from all angles. We allowed an hour for the photography (not all dogs are as obliging!) but in fact it was all over in five minutes.
“Lola” is a 40×50 cm oil painting on a box canvas.