lots road

Q & A with Sarah Richardson

It has been quite a while since we posted here at the Lots Road Group but here we are back with a Q & A with one of our artists and organisers, Sarah Richardson:

Portrait by Sarah Richardson

Portrait by Sarah Richardson

 

How did you become a painter?

My earliest memories are of watching my father painting murals. He wasn’t a professional painter but did it as a hobby for friends and often took me with him. My interest sparked from there. Life after art school at St Martin’s was the usual struggle to pay the rent and so freelance illustration was sacrificed for a series of ‘nine to five jobs’ in the museum and cultural exhibition world in London where my admin skills came to the fore and rescued me financially and professionally. I never really put my paintbrushes away for any length of time, even resorting to painting the walls of hospitals in the Borneo jungle where my newly married medical husband decided we were going! After my children became less dependent on me I felt free to spend time under the tutelage of a marvellous man and a very gifted painter – Jason Bowyer (president of the NEAC). We painted together for several years until in an effort to get rid of me he suggested I enrol at The Heatherley School of Art and concentrate on portraiture. This led to me completing the diploma and post diploma courses in portraiture and meeting up with a group of friends who together have formed the Lots Road Art Group.

 

Which other artists or painters do you look to for inspiration and Why?

This is always such a difficult question to answer as it changes as I discover and understand more. Obviously there are the usual suspects like Rembrandt, Velasquez, Pierro della Francesco, Lucian Freud, Diebenkorn and Euan Euglow whose work is hugely inspirational to me, but for direct influence one looks to the people who are working and teaching you every day. At Heatherleys we are fortunate enough to be taught in the atelier system. This means having a tutor teach you rather like the old masters taught their pupils – by example. And so I would like to mention some of these people who have taught me by example such as, Jason Bowyer, Andy James, Tim Benson, Miriam Escoffet, Atul Vohora, and Alan Ramsey.

 

What do you think constitutes a good portrait?

Gosh this is also another very difficult question because so many things make a good portrait and they are not always the same thing. For instance styles differ enormously over time and its not always easy to compare like with like but essentially every good portrait has to speak to you on an emotional level first and foremost. Economy of brushstroke, capturing the person with a confident mark and not overworking it. Always leaving the viewer to complete something in their own eye for themselves. All things which I am constantly struggling to achieve in my own work.

 

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

 

What current projects are you working on?

I mentioned earlier about the Lots Road Group – sixteen of my fellow Heatherley students have come together to support each other in their artistic endeavours. We have just completed a very successful joint exhibition on Motherhood at the Chelsea Gallery and I am now working on securing our next project with the International Womens Forum for next year.

 

Many thanks Sarah & we look forward to hearing more details of forthcoming exhibitions.

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What you thought of Motherhood!

 

The Motherhood exhibition closed at The Chelsea Gallery on Sunday (Mother’s Day) and began a short tour which sees it move today to The Child and Family Practice in Islington.

The 16 artworks by the Lots Road Group will be on show for two weeks for clients of the practice, before they are exhibited at  Heatherley’s w/c Monday 12 May for staff and students..   

We artists would like to say a big `thank you’ to all those who visited our Chelsea exhibition and would like to share just a few of the supportive and encouraging comments  you left in our Visitors’ Book:

“Lovely touching exhibition” – S Cheshire/J Richardson

“So touched by this exhibition – and inspired too.” J Wahnick

“Touching and inspiring to do my own portraits ” – S Taukolonga

“Super, super, super!  So poignant.  Huge talent!” – R Harding

“One of the most competent displays seen here for a long time.” – M Gladwin

“Lovely idea: we all love our mothers!”  – Mo Quill 

 “The mother-daughter `thing’ is very personal  and it was interesting to see so many interpretations.  So moving.” – J McKenzie

“Wonderful paintings and an incredibly important subject matter.  Mothers forever!” – J Dreyfus

“ A brilliant portrayal of the progressing stages of life” – Harriet

“Very interesting and moving stories of children talking about their mothers” – L Lobianco

“Well timed exhibition and wonderful to see the celebration of motherhood” – Sajidorarhid

“A well timed and themed event” – S Kent

“It was the most marvellous exhibition.  So moving.  And wonderful painting.” – C Normand

“What a lovely and well curated exhibition” – R Williams 

 “An excellent exhibition” – R Marker

 “Very enjoyable.  Very well laid out.”  M Carpenter

“ A really touching and talented exhibition” – S Blackett

“Great exhibition.  So much love and skilfully executed.” –  T Russell Smith

 “Very good exhibition. Nice paintings.”  J Hill

 “Hugely enjoyable.  I applaud you all.” – J Kerr and T Leslie

 “Really lovely exhibition.” – P Withon

“Lovely, timeless, interesting”-  S Bonner

“ So insightful” -M MacKenzie

 “Inspirational work” – A Fergusson-Cunningham 

“A wonderful and powerful exhibition” – L Eccles-Williams

 “What a combination the portraits and relationships! “ – C Grant

“Really interesting to read the artist details – it expanded the experience”   – M Nott

“Much emotion and great memories for the artists” – P Nuesink

“A wonderful, heartfelt exhibition” – M Cocco

“Thank you for such a beautiful show” – Halou

‘I think life is about people and human connection’: Q & A with Sarah Jane Moon

With our first show, ‘Motherhood’, opening this week we take time to chat to New Zealand born Sarah Jane Moon, recipient of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ 2013 Bulldog Bursary, about life lived across continents, her transition from curatorial theory to portrait painting and several exciting upcoming projects.

Sarah Jane Moon working on a commission in Scotland

Sarah Jane Moon working on a commission in Scotland

How did you become a painter?

I often feel like the process of becoming a painter is a continuous one, but that stated, I first started painting as a child. I was always ‘good at art’ winning several local awards for drawing and was often accused of ‘copying’ by friends at primary school, which I took as a compliment. I distinctly remember the excitement of finger painting before then at kindergarten and also a peculiar fair ground entertainment that involved squeezing tubes of paint onto a spinning wheel with paper attached to produce a sort of kaleidoscopic pattern. I was always drawn to pattern and intricate detail, my most favourite colouring in books being those that had repetitive designs ad nauseam.

Teenage years saw my interest in art continue and I was very keen on New Zealand painters such as Toss Woollaston, Rita Angus and Colin McCahon. I had one particularly memorable teacher who was flamboyant and bohemian and used to refer to colours as ‘flavours’ and seemed to be viscerally affected by tone and line. She was fabulous and her enthusiasm infectious. However I was also fascinated by other subjects and a rather pragmatic upbringing encouraged me to choose Japanese language and English literature to study at university. Having to choose extra courses to fulfil points requirements I soon added Art History as a third major and looking back it was obvious that I had probably just wanted to paint.

On graduating university in New Zealand I then travelled for a decade or so, living and working in countries such as Japan, Malaysia, Australia and, by roundabout route, the UK. A break in my nascent career in Arts Management led me to take a short course in drawing at Central St Martins (after having not drawn a thing for 12 years) and that soon led, by chance to a late application and enrolment on Heatherley’s Portrait Diploma. I was very very amateur in the beginning but many of the tutors were kind enough to encourage me anyway and I soon gained some degree of competency in drawing. Since finishing the course in 2011 I have been painting and drawing professionally.

What drew you to portraiture in particular?

The week long course I took at Central Saint Martins was tutored by a fabulously enthusiastic young woman by the name of Alice White. At the end of the course she was astute enough to suggest that my inept scribbling, which she kindly referred to as ‘mark making’, would potentially suit portraiture. Being rather adrift in all other areas of my life at the time and searching for something to invest myself in, I was off to google ‘portrait courses london’ immediately and thus ended up at Heatherley’s.

Although I like to paint landscape and still life, I continue to be seduced by portraiture and find it a rich vehicle by which to contemplate intimacy and distance, presence and absence and the things that constitute the identities of our selves and others. I think life is about people and human connection and so feel fortunate to have my profession reflect that in some way.

'Tamson, Kilburn', 140 x 146 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2013

‘Tamson, Kilburn’, 140 x 146 cm, acrylic on canvas, 2013

Which other artists or painters do you look to for inspiration and why? 

There are so many. Some that come to mind immediately: Lucian Freud, Alice Neel, Henri Matisse, Paula Rego, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, David Hockney, Maggi Hambling, Frank Auerbach, John Bratby, Euan Uglow, Leon Kossoff, Colin McCahon, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Laura Knight, Francis Bacon, Tai-Shen Shierenberg, Hokusai Katsushika, Amedeo Modigliani and Georges-Pierre Seurat.

Also many of the tutors I have been fortunate enough to study with (Atul Vohora, Andy James, Linda Nugent, Khan Holly, Susan Engledow, Susan Wilson) and many poets and novelists too.

What, to you, constitutes a good portrait? 

I think there are many definitions of a ‘good’ portrait, but when making work myself I like it to, as a given, have something of an accurate likeness, and then to further go beyond this and convey something of how a particular person IS in the world; to state something about their presence or demeanour or character. It must then function as a good and interesting picture formally, that is, to be harmonious in terms of composition, colour, detail, content. I like portraits of people to be set in environments that are particular to them and that tell part of the story of who they are.

Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about (exhibitions, articles, websites, commissions, personal projects)? 

I currently have a painting in the Lynn Painter Stainers exhibition at the Mall Galleries which runs until 22nd March, and I shall be exhibiting again in May with The Royal Society of Portrait Painters in their annual exhibition (8th- 23rd May) as recipient of the Bulldog Bursary.

There is a short article on my work in the current issue (2) of Muff magazine.

I am working on several commissions, one for Jesus College at Cambridge, and also have several personal projects ongoing. One that I’m particularly excited about involves two very large (250 x 200 cm) group portraits that will be set in a late 17th century house in Stepney Green.

My website is sarahjanemoon.com and I have a facebook page here.

Many thanks Sarah Jane! 

(all images and text copyright thelotsroadgroup 2014, please ask permission before use)

MOTHERHOOD: Our first exhibition

The Lots Road Group is very pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting together next week at The Chelsea Old Town Hall with our very first show ‘Motherhood’. 

Motherhood A3 poster

Motherhood is a Chelsea portrait exhibition and book that celebrates mothers, grandmothers and mothers-in-law.

The exhibition features 16 portraits by figurative artists who met when studying portraiture at The Heatherley School of Fine Art in Lots Road. It runs at The Chelsea Library, Kings Road, SW3 from Thursday, 20 March until Mother’s Day (30 March).

The book contains all the portraits featured in the exhibition which are executed in a variety of media from oils, acrylics and pastels to print. Some were completed from life, others after death from studies and photographs.

It also provides a fascinating insight into the craft of portrait painting: from the artist who set aside her oils for speedier pastels to portray her mother with life-long back problems, to another who describes the quick work required to capture the likeness of a mother-in-law, suffering from Alzheimer’s, who would ‘forget’ her presence, to another who listened to the music she used to share with her mother to help her complete the portrait begun before her death.

It also features a foreword by Heatherley’s Principal Emeritus, John Walton RA, who writes about the portrait he painted of his own mother.

All portraits show the acute powers of observation and attention to detail instilled into students at one of the few art colleges in Britain that focuses purely on portraiture, figurative painting and sculpture.

John Walton said, “I am happy to think that this bunch of fellow artists derived a positive benefit from their studies at Heatherley’s and have used these as the vehicle for an imaginative project.”

The Motherhood book is available for £16.69 from http://blur.by/1n0HsKF. (Some sales of the book will see a percentage given in aid of Oxfam’s Mothers Appeal http://www.oxfam.org.uk/mother-appeal)

Exhibition Details: 

Thursday 20 to Sunday 30 March 2014 (Mother’s Day)

The Chelsea Library, Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Rd, London SW3 5EZ

Mon, Tues, Thurs, 9.30am-8pm

Wed, Fri, Sat, 9.30am-5pm & Sun, 1- 5pm

Closest tube: Sloane Square

The exhibition is FREE to attend.

Motherhood book: Price £16.69+p&p from http://blur.by/1n0HsKF

‘It’s hard – try it!’: Hilary Puxley on life, painting and other artists

Hilary Puxley is next up on our list of members of the Lots Road Group to interview. Here she chats with us about juggling family life and a career as a shipping solicitor and entrepreneur, her love of making and collecting portraits and the many artists she looks to for inspiration, including Degas, Rembrandt and Jenny Saville.

Hilary Puxley in her studio

Hilary Puxley in her studio

How did you become a painter?

By the scenic route!  My mother was an art teacher and I spent much of my childhood drawing and painting.  I particularly drew portraits and, shamingly in retrospect, ran a cash-for-drawings enterprise at school.  That was the end of my artistic career for a long time though, as academic subjects took priority.  I managed evening classes at the Ruskin School of Art when at university but that was about it until I emerged from other careers – working for an African charity, being a shipping solicitor, helping to set up an internet business (www.justgiving.com) and not least being a wife and mother. All the time though, if someone had asked me what I really wanted to do, I would have answered “Paint portraits”.  So I was delighted to sidle onto the Portraiture Diploma at Heatherley’s, via part time courses.  I’ve now been painting commissioned and other portraits for a number of years and continue to feel very lucky to be doing what I most like to do as my profession.

Why portraiture?

I am so irritated by the glib idea, quite often expressed, that portraiture is an inferior art form.  It’s hard – try it!  I’m not sure why, except to state the obvious – that I like to observe the infinite variety of the human form and face.  I have always been gripped by portraiture and the portraits are the first thing I look at in art books or exhibitions.  I collect 20th century portraits in a very minor way – only from minor auctions, junk shops, even eBay, and I’ve had some interesting and successful searches for the identities of artists and sitters in unattributed (cheap!) works.

Which other artists inspire and why?

This is a moveable feast – enthusiasms come and go, but some artists I keep in mind when painting are as follows:

Manet, because his figures and faces are bold, quite simple and direct, and he can make the viewer’s eye do the work, for example in “Luncheon in the Studio” recently at the RA, he conveys the information that the boy’s jacket is velvet, though it is almost featureless black.  I looked very carefully.

Jenny Saville, paints flesh with extraordinary virtuosity, verve and generosity, using a delicious palette, even when the image is ostensibly challenging – so much better than Lucian Freud’s khakis. I wish.

Rembrandt, not for the psychological profundity – that comes of decades of thought and practice – but because despite his power, he also has extreme delicacy of touch.  A portrait I know well is that of his mother reading, at Wilton House, in which tiny flicks of paint convey exactly what he intends.  Be bold, but also be careful, subtle.

Degas – master of composition, often extremely unconventional (thank you Japanese printmakers).  A favourite is “The Dance Class”, which has the legs of the dancers coming downstairs in the top left.  A moment of casual movement is captured, but the geometry is there and the intellect is working hard.

I have recently been in Vienna and resumed my admiration for Klimt, Schiele and their contemporaries, after a lull of 20 years or so.

Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about (exhibitions, articles, websites, commissions, personal projects)? 

I’m working on what is turning out to be a series of portraits and drawings of Margo, a fitness instructor with a fantastic physique – and face.  On the drawing board (literally) is a group portrait of actors on stage in a period comedy performed by a young theatre company called “Let Them Call It Mischief”, who very kindly allow me to draw at their rehearsals.

My website is www.hilarypuxley.com

 

 

Below is one of Hilary’s portraits, entitled ‘Toby’. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on painting with us Hilary. 

'Toby', oil on canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2013.

‘Toby’, oil on canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2013.

(all images and text copyright thelotsroadgroup 2014, please ask permission before use) 

On Portraiture, Travel and Inspiration: A Chat With Martin Burrough

Our next member profile features an interview with Martin Burrough, an alumni of The Heatherley School of Fine Art who has a background in Reinsurance.

Martin Burrough in his studio
Martin Burrough in his studio

 

A Chat With Martin:

How did you become a painter?

The best looking girls at Uni were those doing a fine arts degree. Hanging around the studios seemed like a good idea at the time. This was at an American University in the mid 60s and some of the excitement of the New York art scene rubbed off on me. Acrylic paint was an exciting new medium for many hard edge pop art painters. So I had a go and loved it. The head of the Fine Art faculty was wonderfully encouraging and I was determined to develop into a professional artist. Reality intervened and parental pressure pushed me back to London and into a job in the City. As it happened, a stimulating career in Reinsurance introduced me to many areas of the world, particularly in Asia Pacific, and, more to the point, to many different art scenes.

Obviously life got a bit busy, raising a family and earning a living, but I always managed to keep my eye in by joining life drawing workshops, visiting countless museums and throwing oils and acrylic around in the odd painting class.
On retirement I leapt at the chance to do the Portraiture Diploma at Heatherleys with Susan Engledow, looking for a fast track toward attempting a second career as an artist. Portraiture wasn’t initially my main interest but I did recognise that the course would provide discipline and a considered, traditional development of skills. The environment was perfect, classmates were really good fun and the tutors and models were outstanding. The flame was lit and portraiture became a passion.

Do you still focus on portraiture?

Yes. I now have a studio in West London with a huge window facing North and work on commissioned and non-commissioned oil portraits. However, I have learned that it’s a great release to get out of the studio and paint in plein air as well as trying all the different mediums. Lots of life drawing helps too and it’s very energising to have a crack at still life studies, iPad paintings and printing. But I’m always drawn back to the exhilarating challenge of portraiture.

P050 - MBurrough portrait of Enzo
Enzo, Martin Burrough, 2012, oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm

Which other artists or painters do you look to for inspiration and why?

Part of the fun of my artistic venture is building up some knowledge of art history (from a very poor base), studying the masters and trying to keep up with contemporary work. My favourites seem to change week by week but I do get very influenced by what I see. The Impressionists provide such a wealth of ideas. So does Picasso, Richter, Diebenkorn, Tai Shan Schirenberg, Jemmy Saville, Lucian Freud. And look at the stimulus one can get form Velasquez, Caravaggio and countless others. To roam a museum is like filling your soul with inspiration.

What, to you, constitutes a good portrait?

Obviously a good likeness is key. So a pose that is natural for the sitter is important. It is vital to take serious time and trouble with setting-up and lighting the subject. With natural light if possible. Hard work at this stage makes the actual painting so much more of a pleasure. It’s like a roller coaster – a hard grind to get to the top and then, woosh you’re off, on a wild ride. If the end result shows something of the personality or quirks of the subject, so much the better. Some kind of real engagement with the sitter during the whole process helps. I want to see strong contrasting light, bold colours, good modelling of the head and, finally, a picture that I would like to hang on my own wall. However it is awfully hard to know when you’re finished and, then, to be satisfied with your own work.

Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about (exhibitions, articles, websites, commissions, personal projects)?

I’m just about to leave for a 16 day trip to Ethiopia and, watercolours nervously in hand , want to come back with a sketchbook full of images that I can develop. Otherwise I continue to build up a body of work for exhibition. The first step being to finish off the 16 or so current paintings that I have on the go. Far too many! My website is http://www.martinburrough.com.

Many thanks Martin and we look forward to seeing your work post Ethiopia!

(all images and text copyright thelotsroadgroup 2014, please ask permission before use)