I’m Stella, a west-London based figurative artist who collaborates in storytelling with those I portray to capture of a life lived up to this moment, or the excitement of performing live.
I bring your stories to life in drawings, mixed media and oil paintings - and, in a recent innovation, digital painting. And, as a former journalist and broadcast news pr, I also tell your stories in words – orally, online and in person – to help reinforce the vital but invisible links that connect us all.
Portraits can mark special moments in a person’s history and are a daily reminder on the wall of who the sitter is and where they belong. In the case of children, they can chart the progress from tots to teens and strengthen their self-esteem and confidence.
Performance is a powerful thing. My performance art helps bring your personal enjoyment of music, comedy, dance or circus acts to your home with the same attention you give to your playlists, your record collection, or your ringside seat! You can choose from the performers you know, those you’ve yet to discover - or a statement piece that evokes the soundtrack of your life, or your experience of a live act.
Where it began
My emotional connection with portraiture, music and creating art began in childhood. My father studied watercolour portraiture for seven years for his own enjoyment. He would draw me when I was young, which is a source of fascination to any child. He kept his past portraits in the under stairs cupboard which, somehow, gave their viewing an illicit frisson. My sister and I would seek them out, uncovering film stars like Myrna Loy, with her impossibly arched eyebrows, or paintings with enigmatic titles like, ‘The girl with the mackerel shawl’.
Then, in the 60s, the man who has since become my brother-in-law - a fine art student who still plays mean blues guitar – entered our lives. For a year or so before he moved to London with my sister, he started to teach me to play guitar. And, as an inspirational figure for my far-off future art career, his influence was far reaching.
One day, when I was about eight, he asked me who my favourite Beatle was. “John Lennon”, I replied! And, as I sat at his side, he painted Lennon in pop art-style with matt black hair and complementary blue and orange skin, resplendent in his Sargent Pepper’s green and pink uniform, trademark round glasses and moustache. I was entranced!
When he and my sister, more than a decade older than me, moved to digs just off the Kings Road in its 60s heyday, my parents and I made frequent visits. Music-wise it was such an exciting place to be: you could rub shoulders with Long John Baldry or Elton John and, soon, each visit was punctuated with a gig. And then there was the intertwining of art and music in the LP covers of the day. My sister’s best friend, a graphic designer, even worked for Mel Bush designing band posters for Led Zeppelin!
So, when I left home, London drew me to it like a magnet - but as a journalist, not an artist, on my mum’s advice to keep the art I loved as a hobby. Life drawing, museum visits, concerts punctuated my free time as I explored the world and then moved into broadcast news pr. Nearly 20 years passed before I finally swapped my blackberry for a paintbrush and retrained as a portraitist, finding a new visual way of seeing people and the natural world through observance, detail, character, rhythm – and colour.
It took a leap of faith a few years later to unite in my art my journalistic love of visual reportage with my enthusiasm for buskers, blending fine art with a more colourful, graphic style. When I was appointed resident artist at iconic music venue, the Half Moon Putney, I was able to embrace popular culture, producing a series of original artwork which resonated with the strangers who bought them, underlining the power both art and performance have to connect us.
Why I create art
Creating art is how I celebrate the people, experiences and flora and fauna that inspire me. I seek to use my skills to help my clients tell their stories or find meaning in an artwork that captures the creative energy of shared experiences such as live performance.
Our Portrait. Your Story.
I am a member of the Lots Road Group of portraitists whose motto is Our Portrait. Your Story. I undertake commissions of adults, children and pets and have portrayed well-known sitters, such as the BBC’s Kate Adie and John Humphrys. My portraits go beyond the photographic depiction of moments in time to project my subjects' image into the future. For more information click here.
At the Half Moon Putney, I've produced original artworks of household names, old timers like Ralph Mctell and Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets, to relatively new kids on the block like Catfish.
Winner of the Judges' Prize at Egypt's first biennale (2013), I've exhibited my British figurative art at the Milan Expo, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and National Open Art exhibitions (2015). And I exhibit annually in BEAT (Borough of Ealing Art Trail) open studios.
I've taught drawing for Sketchout in the inspiring surrounds of the V&A, National Portrait Gallery, The Courtauld and Tate Britain and now teach drawing and oil portraiture for beginners for Open Ealing.