I have just been reminded that it has been a while since I last published a blog! Where has the time gone?!
Well, alongside a busy term of teaching and a series of trips over the summer I have been busy in the studio and today finished the 25th portrait in my series of 50.
Here is a quick view of the latest faces…
Here’s Hilary. Love her or loathe her she is the best chance America has of keeping Donald Trump out of the Oval Office. Just as I thought this was going to be the next political highlight we were rocked at home in the UK by the Referendum result. Suddenly the Britain we knew had decided to change its relationship to the world and our PM had resigned.
If you came along to my demo last Saturday … here, as promised, is the finished portrait of Liz Hodgkin, politician, mayor, gardener, singer and all round mover and shaker in Henley on Thames. As you can see I have exchanged her mayoral gown for her Greys Church choir robes and the photo background for Henley in Bloom Green.
My latest addition to the “Fifty Faces'” collection is on display today! Locals of Henley on Thames may well recognise master (mistress?) baker, Nicola Taylor. Lawlors the bakers have been supplying the town with quality bread, buns and cakes for decades and Nicola’s daily Facebook posts keep my tastebuds tickled all though the week.
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.
In these paintings, Pippa is remembered as the family knew and loved her for so many years.
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!