Recently I have been getting back to where it all started for me artistically speaking and have been experimenting with a return to painting. I have tried still life, landscapes, flowers and abstract work, but none of these really “floats my boat” as much as people and fashion. While I have been thinking about which way to go next, I have been making pencil drawings of people with interesting faces and/or individual fashion sense. Most of these drawings are of women, and many of the inspirations have been culled from glossy fashion magazines. Through this I see that I have inadvertently developed a real interest in spectacles! (It takes all sorts I suppose!) I have always been interested in fashion and while I am not a slavish follower of the latest trends, I do try to make some effort to include something ‘current’ in my wardrobe each season, whether it be a colour, pattern, piece of jewellery or other accessory while staying true to my own particular ‘look’.
One of the things I like is seeing are real Individuals (note the capital letter, it is important), and last year I went to watch the London Tweed Run, a fabulous vintage inspired bike ride around London town.
2013 London Tweed Run in Piccadilly
Everyone wears something made of Tweed, most are riding real vintage cycles or at least modern cycles which have a vintage ‘look’ (I own one of the latter myself and love riding it, although it hasn’t been out very much recently). While there I took loads of photos of the riders in their amazing clothes, these are not costumes, Tweed Run is far too sophisticated for that! The best thing about it is the total absence of helmets, flourescent jackets and lycra, instead riders wear tough brogues, tweed plus fours or breeches, tweed jackets, skirts and dresses of various lengths and fabulous hats from straw boaters to deer stalkers!
I chose this fabulous lady to draw and paint
While making pencil drawings from photographs of some of the riders, I wondered how easily they would be to reinterpret as a painting. To start with I chose an image of a rather fetching looking lady who wore a delightful cloche hat and a flamboyant furry collar on her tweed jacket. I only caught her once as she pedaled past me in Piccadilly and had to zoom in Photoshop to get a good enough image of her face to make the pencil sketch.
pencil sketch of lady Tweed Runner
To make the painting I felt it was important to isolate her face from any background distractions, which really meant that the background should be as plain as possible. I decided that A3 would be the optimum size for the painting as the face is life size. To start I painted a blue background wash over a primed canvas and then made a stencil stamp from an offcut of textured wall paper which I then printed over the dark blue background in a lighter blue. The effect is that of a sort of crackle-glaze finish. Next I sketched out the basic image in very thin paint before then building up the image layer by layer. This is the first time I have used acrylic paint in this way as I am more used to oil paint, but I have been keen to get some practice in using acrylic paints mainly because of their much shorter drying times.
step by step to making a painting
Overall I am quite pleased with the result which is not a portrait but more of an illustration and a comment on self image and fashion.
Lady in a cloche hat and fur collar