Winter newsletter: new beginnings
Although it was a tough 2020 for most of us - and there's a long way to go before life gets back to any semblance of normality, or whatever the new normal will be - at least there's now hope on the horizon.
For me, as for many creatives, some doors closed in 2020 and others opened. And I'd like to share these new beginnings with you.
Teaching oil portraits for beginners at Open Ealing
Sadly, since the March lockdown, I have been unable to teach drawing - portraits, architecture, landscape, methods and materials - using the amazing collections of V&A, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and The Courtauld for inspiration. And Sketchout, currently has no plans to plans to resume its workshops.
But, becoming more involved in the art community in which I live over the last few years, means that in 2021 I hope to teach oil portraiture for beginners for Open Ealing in its beautiful new space in Dickens' Yard, when restrictions allow.
Borough of Ealing Art Trail
And, with a fair wind behind us, the 180 BEAT artists who open their home studios for the Borough of Ealing Art Trail annually hope to do so again for the first two weekends in early September, having been unable to do so in 2020. Please make a note in your diary if you'd like to pop in!
Resident Artist Half Moon Putney
Sadly those who inspire much of my art - buskers and musicians - have been unable to play live during 2020. It's not only a tragedy for those, like me, who love to see them on the streets and on the stage but for the musicians themselves, who make the majority of their money from gigging and touring.
Lockdown, of course, has also put a strain on the independent music venues which support them, such as the Half Moon Putney where I'm resident artist, from music managers to (often) freelance roadies, lighting and sound technicians who support live performance.
Yet, it's often creatives of all stripes who have been raising our spirits during this difficult time, finding ways to help and promote each other, and demonstrating the immense power of the arts to heal.
Portraiture in lockdown
Right at the start of lockdown, when Zoom was still new (remember THAT?), the portraiture group I co-founded, the Lots Road Group got together to discuss our next exhibition.
The group formed to offer camraderie (painting alone in a studio in between sittings can be isolating, and we all know what that's like!) and to explain portraiture in the age of photography.
Beyond the door
We quickly agreed that we needed to capture the zeitgeist, focusing on how portraiture could capture these extraordinary times. We decided to call our next exhibition 'Beyond the door' with the door symbolising a portal which we were either isolating behind or through which key workers still continued to step into the world of work ... and a portal through which we would all, eventually emerge.
Sadly our November 2020 deadline for our show has come and gone, as our venue has been in lockdown. Although many exhibitions have gone online, we want our work - with the human stories that accompany it - to be seen in person. So we hope to stage it later this year. Watch this space!
I'm happy to tell you my portrait for 'Beyond the Door' is now complete. It's a portrait, yet to be revealed, of an Ealing musician who decided, during the first lockdown, to entertain the neighbours in his cul-de-sal for half an hour each Friday night for 15 weeks in a socially distanced way. His music was also broadcast on facebook's socially distanced fest. He did so much to give shape and focus to the week not only to his neighbours, but to facebook's music lover fans. And, of course, I found his performace inspiring.
Whilst painting for our exhibition, many of the group decided to create free portrait 'thank yous' for NHS key workers, taking part in Portraitist Tom Croft's fantastic Instagram initiative #portraitsforNHSheroes. Those who finished them in time also featured in an online show and portrait book, the latter raising money for NHS Charities Together.
My portrait is of NHS Parademic Helen Chiverton who responds to 999 calls in an ambulance. Click here to read Helen's story and see her portrait.
Musicians in lockdown
I have also portrayed two other Ealing musicians in lockdown - the founder of the Ealing Blues Festival Robert Hokum, who took part last year in the Hanwell Hootie in isolation - and keyboard player Marky Dawson. Click here to read Robert and Mark's experience of lockdown.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many artists around the world have found themselves without work. So, at the start of lockdown, Matthew Burrows instigated the #artistsupportpledge
The concept is a simple one. You post images of your work to sell for no more than £200 each. Anyone can then buy the work. Every time you reach £1,000 of sales you pledge to buy another artist’s work for £200.
I have now included all of my famous actor artworks in this pledge at £165 (including UK shipping) - from a very young Marilyn, before fame transformed her, to Vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman. They are the stars of classic films - from Casabanca to Some Like it Hot and Gone with the Wind - I used to watch as Sunday matinees on tv with my mum - a highlight of our week, long before multichannel tv transformed our viewing landscape.
Click here for my actor pledge portraits.
One of the useful things about lockdown has been time to allow me to create this new website with, for the first time, a webshop. Finally I have all my artworks for sale online, alongside a portraiture gallery.
My NEWS, MEDIA and EXHIBITION blogs explain the stories behind my artworks, keep you up-to-date with exhibition news and explain my journey as an artist. I do hope you will enjoy exploring them (link above)
New art product website on Red Bubble
And you can now buy band t shirts and prints etc with artwork based on the drawings and paintings of many of the amazing musicians, buskers and acrobats etc I've drawn and painted over the years. Unique gift ideas for the ones you love.
NEW! Art & Soul blog!
And I'm hugely excited to let you know that, this year, I am introducing a new regular blog called Art & Soul.
As an ex print journalist and BBC/Sky News PR, storytelling is central to my art.
Accompanying words tell the stories of my human subjects.
So I have decided to return to my roots and start an 'Art & Soul' blog which will encompass both portraiture and musician art during these extraordinary times.
When focused more on portraiture, it will appear in the fourth week of every month on the site of the art collective I belong to - Skylark Galleries - where all the profits go to the artists. You may wish to bookmark this page so you can drop in whenever you can.
The blog will also appear - occasionally - in the news section of my website when it will carry interviews with some of the amazing performers I portray. Again, you may wish to bookmark the page. My first blog
For those who prefer a reminder, if you follow me on any of my social media channels, you will discover when I post a new blog under my handle - Art & Soul. It will go live on Monday 25 January. Hope you enjoy it - and like the new logo!
Delighted to have five images in my Winter sale for just £45 - four drawings of The Rawhides, the fabulous Blues Brothers' tribute band I caught at The Hideaway in Streatham when live music was allowed (remember that?) and Classy Cool buskers from Covent Garden. Click here to find them.
So, it just remains for me to wish you all good health in 2021. May this year bring us all good news.
The Rawhides £45 unmounted. Including UK p&p. Sent rolled. Link above.