Where it all began
Where it all 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.