Autobiographical portrait: my first bike ride

Studying portraiture, you are always looking for subjects, other than professional models, to paint. 

Source material: childhood transparencies

When my dad died in 2000, he left transparencies from my childhood that I was inspired to paint from. It was a way I felt I could keep his memory alive by eternalising moments we had shared.

My first bike ride autobiographical portrait in oils on canvas artwork by Stella Tooth.

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Portraits to evoke childhood memories

This oil painting is set against the backdrop of the council estate in Bournemouth where I grew up, and tells the story of the day my dad taught me to ride a bike.  The bike was my Christmas present, given me by my parents at the same time as my best friend, Trish, received hers.  This led to Winter, Spring and much of the Summer that year being spent in and around the estate’s garages, where we would take on the personas of Napoleon Solo (Trish) and Ilya Kuryakin (me) from a spy series on tv at the time - The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  We had no weapons, but we did have communicator pens! 

Learning to ride

On the particular day in my portrait, my dad taught me how to use the brakes, mount the bike from stationary, then at a run and held the back of the saddle while I pedalled down the hill calling for him not to let go of the back of it…  Only when I got to the bottom, did I realise he had let go!  Incensed, I came riding up the hill to tell him off, only to realise, as I approached him, that I had learned to ride! 

Red shoes

I don’t know if you remember the red shoes I’m wearing?  Chances are if you were a female child in the 60s like me you will, as the choices for kids were limited in Clarkes or Startrite!

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