The MID WALES ART CENTRE - May Day Bank Holiday visit

A weekend trip to see the work of Stefan Knapp at the Mid Wales Art Centre, founded and run by Cathy Knapp. Stefan was an internationally renowned enamelist and sculptor, he left a unique collection of paintings and sculpture which are on display in the house and grounds. The Art entre includes a Sculpture shed, park and hall - which is the only permanent collection of Stefan Knapp's work in the world, set in the idyllic rural area of Mid Wales. 

I had not seen his work for over 20-years, since it was on display at his house in Sandhills, Surrey in the mid-nineties.  And I felt as if I was looking at the work with new eyes.  Seeing as I was only 15-years old when I first saw the work, at the age of 36 now the viewing was a different experience. With a variety of canvases and sculptures kept inside of the house and his large steel enamels outside on display in the courtyard and sculpture hall. 




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.

Sebastian Smith Portrait

My first portrait of a child... The most characterful Sebastian 'Boris' Smith. Amazingly gown-up looking for a 14-months year old. 

I admit that I put an inordinate amount of consideration into the composition of the painting, and the portrait itself was painted over 8-days in intervals.  My deliberateness, was mainly due to it being a new type of subject matter and how to effectively treat it, but I am pleased with the results. 

The background proved to be the most difficult colour to get right.  As originally I painted the room background with a grey, but that drained out the colour in his face, so the pale burgundy colour worked well in the end.

After presenting the painting to his father,  I found out that the pink cardigan that Sebastian is wearing was knitted by his granny and has been handed down from father to son.  

An earlier version with the different coloured backgrounds... before the final pale burgundy colour. 

An earlier version with the different coloured backgrounds... before the final pale burgundy colour. 

Daniel Wyatt Portrait

Im thrilled with this portrait of Daniel Wyatt... Almost as thrilled as I was when Nikki Hoar commissioned me with this painting.  I admire the leap of faith it must be asking someone to paint a picture of their partner.  It was for Daniel's 30th birthday - no pressure on me (I thought).  On a more serious note, when I saw the original picture I was completely taken with it and knew I had some great creative options to make a successful portrait painting. 

The pictures below are from the moment that I presented the painting to its patron 

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. 

A picture of me and the portraits subject... In Greenwich, London. 

A picture of me and the portraits subject... In Greenwich, London. 

A second picture of me and the portraits subject...  

Back from Stockholm - with new painting Ideas

I am fresh back from an amazing trip to the Moderna Museet in Sweden, full of ideas and new inspiration.  The entrance wall of which is in the picture below, it is a state museum located on the island of Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm. 


The outstanding work was from Trisha Baga, a young artist working mainly in video and performance. Her approach is open and intuitive, with a homespun aesthetic that might incorporate screen effects, recordings of herself over soundtracks, scenes spliced together and improvised props. She adopts truly engaging multimedia approach.  Watching her short film Hercules in 3d glasses projected into an enormous installation space, I didn’t expect the piece to have such funny tongue in cheek moments.  For instance a cut out rabbit bounces across the bottom of the screen, Monty python style!  Its so unusual to see a piece of art that is not only engaging in a audio visual sense, but is also amusing for the viewer. Do have a further read here, I could not recommend her playful work anymore

Since I've been back from Sweden, I have been thinking more about my painting subject ideas; I've experienced somewhat of a creative inaction. A type of stalling created, inadvertently by having too many ideas in my head at one time.  This block or better worded as a stall - reached it peak on Sunday with a spontaneous outbreak of painting.  I have a space in my living room, and a pretty large 4.5" x 4.5" blank canvas, which has now been filled with amber chalk, pale pinks, redish creams and dark imperial blue shades; the result of which im rather pleased with. At has a very least ensured I have committed pen to paper so to speak.

Before I sign-off, I wanted to leave with one last thought. I have been considering creating a set of paintings for a solo show after the summer this year. The theme of which will be portraiture 


I am delighted to announce that my most recent portrait painting entitled 'The Cows' has been presented to it new owner.  

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