Fine art painter - specialising in abstract colour field portraiture. "I look to tell a story about a person through the medium of paint".
MR & MR ASPINALL AND HALLOWES
Wedding portrait - Acrylic on canvas 120.0 cm x 90.0 cm - August 2019
My latest painting is a wedding portrait of friends Christopher Aspinall & Stephen Hallowes. The moment was captured only 1 week for they got married, inside of a warehouse, in Shoreditch, East London.
Several years before the painting even existed as an idea - we, myself and the portrait’s subjects, had visited the Tate Britain and seen the giant David Hockney portrait – Mr & Mrs Clark; a tour de tour of neo classical painting. This painting became the inspiration for their portrait’s composition and to a degree some of the themes. I wanted to keep the same casual seated pose of Mr Clark and even sourced the same Eames chair he sits in the 1970’s picture. And the standing pose of Mrs Percy Clark. But my painting had to have themes that were closer to a traditional wedding portrait, showing the pair as a happy couple. I did this primarily by having Christopher’s hand on Stephen’s shoulder, showing support and connection. I asked them both to wear whatever they felt like, as long as they matched and visually complimented one another. Further to this, they brought a selection of personal items to augment the scene. From a bunch of wedding flowers, a bottle of Champagne, and a cuddly toy sat on a glass table, to a painting by Stephen’s mother.
For the photo shoot I spent the morning setting up lighting and white cyc background. Once the pair were in position I took over 200 pictures, but final image I choose stood out instantly. Cristopher’s commanding gaze, one of confidence combined with loving, supportive hand on Stephen’s shoulder. Stephen’s pose is more nonchalant, causal, along with the sunglasses captured his personally to a tee. The standing and seated pose created a cyclical composition, which can bring harmony against a block colour background, and can stop the figures looking stuck on and floating.
The canvas was under painted in a bright salmon colour and the final colour block is complimentary pastel blue. Initially I did consider keeping the background white, but as in the painting developed I gravitated more to a pastel blue colour.
I was lucky with rays of wonderful strong sunshine coming through the windows on the left, which bathed the floor in the bright light. I felt this sunshine brought an unconscious sense of joy to the composition and suited a wedding theme in a subtle, unconscious way for the viewer.
I kept the overall canvas a more modest scale than the Hockney version, but it still a sizable 48 x 36 inches. The scale is key to give impact with these colour-field paintings to evoke mood from the block of pure colour.
The painting took 9-days for me to complete. The detailing upped the total painting time which I estimated at around 80-hours. A considerable increase from my previous works. I made over 10 small poster studies exploring the colour balance and the blue background alone took a day to paint.
I paid homage to the Hockney painting title, but mine had a same sex twist to it.
Lindos, St Pauls Bay Revisited – 101.6 x 76.2 cm – Acrylic on Canvas. March 2017.
This is the first time to me to revisit a paintings design and do a ‘re-work’.
But why re-work it?
I wasn’t happy with the previous paintings final outcome. The experimental background unsuccessfully distracted from the pictures figurative subject, which really should be the focus of the viewer's gaze.
To to drive this change, I took a work in progress photograph of the 2015 painting which had just the skin tones blocked out against a pure yellow background. This photo has formed the basis of the new painting.
Keeping the composition true colour field at its core - Purple and yellow a complementary colours, with an effective interplay between a dimensionless colour field and a floating figurative subject.
The composition is from a photograph I took on a beach in Greece, with the figure predominantly in shade, with bounce light from the surroundings.
I have altered its composition, adding more lower leg, which exaggerates the perspective of looking up at the subject. As this was one the most successful aspects of the previous painting. Drawing the viewer’s eye upwards to the subject's face. The face is reduced in size due to foreshortening, by looking upwards across the body with a hands on hips pose, conveys a strong confident stance, yet an intriguing calm gaze off into the distance...
Tried to make the yellow glow using a high chroma Cadmium yellow light, making it the lightest tonal value on the canvas
I kept the blue underpainting layer through for the glasses and the lower legs, which seems like an on-going theme in my recent work. This is purely for aesthetics and has no deliberate meaning.
DANIEL WYATT PORTRAIT
Daniel Wyatt Portrait - 100.0 cm x 100.0 cm Acrylic on canvas August 2016
I’m delighted to present my latest commission, a portrait painting of Daniel Wyatt, which was given as a gift for his 30th birthday.
The composition was taken from a photo of Daniel standing in front of a pastel blue wall. His relaxed pose, with a confident facial expression combined with the sunglasses intrigued me. The word ‘cool’ I thought summed it up.
The blue wall gives a strong, lively colour field background, but to give this layer some movement, I under painted the canvas a complimentary light orange. This technique is highlighted around the edges of the canvas and the figures outline.
The shadow he casts on the wall helps lift him forward from the blue background and in my opinion adds to an interesting interplay between light and shade in this painting.
SELF PORTRAIT - 2015
Self Portrait - Acrylic on canvas 120.0 cm x 120.0 cm - May 2015
After two years of deliberating, I finally plucked up the courage to paint a self portrait.
I got the idea for the composition after watching a BBC documentary called ‘Artists Studios’, featuring the British painter Patrick Heron. The interview was shot in his St Ives studio, with him sitting,looking directly into camera in front of one of his large paintings. The interviews theme was Heron discussing his motivations and daily artistic practices.
It got me thinking: back at art school my tutor had arranged for me to visit Heron down in Cornwall. Unfortunately that summer he died, and I didn’t get the chance to visit him at his ‘Eagles Nest’ home in Zennor. I have always wondered how different my artistic life may have been, having met such a famous artist, and how the experience could have affected me? Watching his interview and asking the personal question ‘what if’, sparked my courage enough for me to undertake painting a self portrait.
On a more practical level - I liked the sitting position of the man in the painting ‘Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy’ by David Hockney, this became the starting point for my seated pose. I wanted to portray myself sat on a chair in front of one of my recent large colour field paintings, looking quietly contemplative and gazing off into the distance.
The style of this painting is a continuation of my recent work - colour-field backgrounds which try to capture the mood and message I am trying to convey of the sitter, with a more figurative and literal portrait foreground. The canvas is relatively large 120.0cm square and is currently being exhibited in a group Summer show at Chelsea Arts Club.
TOBI & TOLU OGUNSANYA
My new portrait is of the twin brothers Tobi and Tolu Ogunsanya on the rooftop of the Le Bain – Standard Hotel in New York. With it’s characteristic green grass floor, pale pink round seats and views over the skyline of Manhattan.
The composition is of both of the brothers, Tolu is on the left and Tobi on the right. The scale of the portrait I kept at 1-metre squared. Tolu's T-shirt was striking with stripes and dark shadow running down the front. Tobi's T-shirt I kept simpler in design as I wanted his face to be the focus. I was conscious of keeping Tolu's cool pose and try to maintain Tobi feel with a calmer more authoritative feel to it.
The background base colour is slightly more muted than my recent paintings as I wanted the pale orange to harmonise with the pale green and blue tones. The three of these colours are almost tonally identical.
Both of them are wearing sunglasses which helps tie them both together neatly, I kept the lower section of the painting loose and gestural, leaving out details such as their watches, as I wanted the viewer to focus to be on their faces.
PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST
Richard Smith at Kingly Court - 120.0cm x 90.0cm - Acrylic on Canvas - April 21014
A portrait of the painter Richard Smith at his viewing evening at Kingly Court in Soho during the spring of 2014. An honest portrayal of a friend as he stands in front of his show’s highlight painting.
Although figurative at its core, I've tried to create a colour-field background and have abstracted elements such as his scarf, keeping it loose and gestural. With a predominantly teal background and purple clothes and lilac pink coloured flesh tones, I decided to paint this at a larger scale of 4-ft by 3-ft wide to aid the impact of the colour.
81.28cm x 60.96cm on canvas - Nov 2016
My latest portrait is of Sebastian Smith a characterful 14-month old boy.
When I saw the source photograph it immediately grabbed my attention; as I felt there was a playfully ‘regal’ air to his pose, particularly for a toddler. With Sebastian standing sideways and looking forward over the shoulder, which made him look old beyond his years.
Given his small stature, the viewer’s vantage point is slightly above his eyeline, so I framed the compositions subject closer that I would usually set, to help give him a larger scale and to add to the sense of him being more grown-up.
After trying many variations of background colours, using solid blocks of colours, I found a pale burgundy best captured the essence of his character and his charming pink knitted cardigan.
GABRIELLA IN MUNNAR
GABRIELLA IN MUNNAR. Dimensions - 275.4 x 184.6cm. Acrylic on Canvas. Sep 2011.
Gabriella in Munnar Is a painting inspired by a photograph taken in the hills of eastern Kerala-India in the spring of 2011.
FATHER & SON
Father & Son - 120.0cm x 90.0cm - Acrylic on Canvas - May 2015
My new portrait painting is of Ed Quintrell and his son in an outdoor scene. This painting is a continuation of my portrait series, combining colour-field backgrounds and gestural figure portraits in the foreground. The choice of background colour represents the essence and mood of the portraits figurative subject. This time I decided to add more illustrative detail into the background scene, especially as there were two figures to draw your eye in the foreground. To contrast with this, I altered the hue of the background colours to a complementary combination of a light pastel yellow and purple. I avoided working up the painting too heavily, by keeping as many areas as possible loose and gestural, which meant it was even more important to maintain accurate mark making to capture both the likeness of Ed and his son, and to keep the true spirit of the moment.
Scarlett Owen - 75.0cm x 120.0cm - Acrylic on Canvas - November 2016
To round up a busy year of painting for me, is my latest portrait of is ofScarlett, the 2-year old daughter of this portraits patron, James Owen.Pictured asleep with her favourite teddy, which she has been inseparable with since birth.
I made her face the focus of the painting, highlighting this area; whitening out her face slightly, giving it a softer, more ethereal edge, adding to her already sweet, angelic look.
By underpaintinga warm light peach/orangecolour,theoverall colouration is warmer than the source photograph, which you can see through in sections of the portrait, and is most prominent in the bottom centre of the composition. Both tonally, and in colour, the bedsheets, teddy and Scarlett are similar, so I was conscious that the small areas of darkest shadow and her hair were key to give this picture the contrast it needed.
RAVELLO WEDDING – 120.0 x 90.0 cm – Acrylic on Canvas. 2016.
The composition is from a picture taken at my own wedding, I kept my brush strokes gestural and free, leaving areas unfinished, such as the suit and handbag. With the base layer of blue paint coming through, to give it an abstract edge.
LINDOS. ST PAUL'S BAY
Lindos St Pauls Bay – 101.6 x 76.2 cm – Acrylic on Canvas. 2015.
Lindos, St Pauls Bay is a continuation of my colour field paintings, with a figurative portrait subject. This time, I experimented with my painting methods more fully.
After completing my recent self portrait, I became conscious of knowing when stop working up the level of the paintings detail and to put the brushes down. For this piece of work I was determined to allow my mark making to be more gestural and not to overwork the paint onto the canvas, leaving some of the base surface colour visible. Put simply; to try and adopt a one brush stroke approach.
The composition is from a photograph I took on a beach in Greece - the figure is predominantly in shade, with highlights of bounce light from the surroundings. The background is a bright cyan sky and the familiar Mediterranean turquoise sea. The yellow tone worked well with those of the skin and the colour field background areas. This helps maintain a more abstract colour palette. I felt that the pose of the model was so strong, that it could hold the bright colours and I remember the temperature on the beach in the middle of the day being searingly hot, and after doing a series of experiments, I decided to have the base colour on the canvas a light, but vivid lemon yellow carried this intensity of heat. This yellow surrounds the figure, and projects forward the message of a bold, confident pose. The skin being a cooler, and in terms of tone and shade darker, keeps the figure grounded spatially within the composition, although the it appears to floats in front of the bright colours in the background, giving it a abstracted, stylised look.
Instead of just one expanse of colour, I added more detail splitting the background into three main regions, by abstracting the sky, distant hills and sea. Given the lower vantage point of the viewer, the painting needs these shapes to give the composition context and perspective. The suggestion of an umbrella at the top left of the painting, is a reminder and subtle hint of reality.
I think this is an effective interplay between a dimensionless colour field and a more figurative subject. In my eyes the most successful aspect of the painting is drawing the viewer’s eye upwards to the subjects face. The face is reduced in size due to foreshortening, by looking upwards across the body with a hands on hips pose, conveys a strong confident stance, yet an intriguing calm gaze off into the distance.
THE COWS - 100.0 x 100.0 cm - Acrylic on Canvas. September 2013
This commissioned portrait is set along a roadside in the mountains of Zug in Switzerland. Depicting my friend Yves in his party fancy-dress regalia.
The painting was unveiled to its patron on Sunday 29th September at his home in West London.
HATSU YUME – two canvas 120.0 x 30.0 cm - Acrylic on Canvas. 2010.
Inspired by the short film Hatsu Yume (First Dream), created for the Sony Corporation by the artist Bill Viola in 1981.
I watched this film in 2001 at my first year at Art School.It struck me as a bad meditation, hallucinogenic slow motion film showing daily life in rural Japan.The strongest sense of meditation I felt was a scene towards the end of the 51-minute film of Japanese Koi Carp being filmed in their pool.Brightly coloured fish slowly drifting with perfect serenity through water, felt hypnotic and seductive.I hoped to capture this feeling through the abstract, originally a trip-tych, I later destroyed the middle section and kept the out two canvases.
A critical quote from this film is below
Unfolding as a dreamlike trance, Hatsu Yume is a startlingly beautiful, metaphorical work. Viola fuses a personal observation of Japanese culture with a metaphysical contemplation of life, death and nature, achieved through a symbolic exploration of video's relation to light and reflection.
GALLONS 3. Oil on Canvas 275.4 x 180.4 cm. May 2009
This large commission was painted for the Prime family back in 2009, and lived with them in Dubai for a short while. My brief was to create an abstract which captured the soon to be at the time, birth date of their first daughter.
Overall I was happiest with the balance of colour and composition in the piece. The final background green took me weeks decide upon the right hue and shade before finally committing to canvas.