Leaving Waterstones

leaving-waterstones-artist-mark-stevensonThe Art of Reading has now left Waterstones, the first leg of its tour. Watch this space for future dates.
What you said about it:
“Fantastic and calming”
– E Burke
“Beautiful, engaging portraits…[re portrait of Dame Gillian Beer by Katherine Firth] the artist very much captures her spirit
– M Beech
“We came to see the portrait of Daisy by her great aunt Stella and love it! Lovely exhibition and great hanging space.”
– L&J Rogers
“Beautiful portrait [of aunt Caroline Dawnay by Sarah Richardson]. Amazing exhibition.”
– D Dawnay
“Masterfully curated and a diverse and interesting collection of work.”
– G&J Hughes
“Inspiring because it’s real. Very touching.”
– G Doneva
“Totally arresting and engaging!”
– K Owen
“Great exhibition!”
– D Ingham
“Some really gorgeous pieces displayed!”
– E Brooks

Art of Reading PV – a huge success!

Last night’s Private View of the Lots Road Group’s latest show The Art of Reading, in association with BookTrust, was attended by more than 150 people.

Speeches by this year’s theme leader, Hilary Puxley, and BookTrust’s Meredith Niles underlined that the exhibition aimed to be a celebration of the pleasure of reading.
Meredith spoke about how reading is so integral to family life that when, quite separate to the show, she had asked LRG artist Elizabeth Shields to paint their eldest son William, they found the truest reflection of his personality was to depict him curled up with a great book on his kindle.
Hilary spoke about the popularity of the theme with artists and explained that all the images in the show, which runs at Waterstones Gower Street from today until the end of the month, are accompanied by narratives which together give a palpable sense of the joys of reading.
If you’re quick, you can buy the catalogue in store for a special exhibition price, or you can buy it online via £17.59.
Here are some of the artists with their portrait and sitters – including Michael Bond, Julian Warrender, Natasha Farrant and Caroline Dawnay.

Portrayed! at the IoD!

Tonight a pop up exhibition of Portrayed! 25 years of inspiring women (from the International Women’s Forum UK) will accompany the launch of an annual lecture, named in honour of the first woman to occupy the honorary role of Institute of Directors President, Lady Margaret Mackworth, who was elected to the post in 1926.

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard – who is in London promoting her book My story – is to deliver the inaugural Mackworth Lecture at the IoD in Pall Mall.

‘That’s why I paint, to find that feeling of satisfaction’… Q & A WITH ELIZABETH SHIELDS

Welcome back to the Lots Road Group blog ! Despite having been rather quiet online, much has been happening behind the scenes and we hope to be sharing exciting news on upcoming projects with you very soon. 

Meanwhile, we have another Q & A post from our very own Elizabeth Shields:


Elizabeth Shields

Elizabeth Shields


How did you become a painter? 

When I was ten I received a packet of chalks for my birthday from a girl called Alice. I used to draw pictures of Tintin! Art scholarships followed at senior school, then I was soon after on to Wimbledon school of art where I did my foundation. For a time I thought I might become a sculptor.

I went on to Glasgow School of Art where I found Karen Kilimnik and I realised I wanted to do colourful theatricle things and then eventually ended up at the Heatherley School of Fine Art. Since Heatherley’s I have been working as a professional portrait painter with a studio in South London.

What drew you to portraiture in particular? 

Alice Neel – she helps a great deal. I found I was really only jazzed up about painting family and friends. I have been painting my brother David a lot and that was the only thing that really made a big difference in the progression of my work and to my satisfaction. When you finally feel satisfied with something it’s a big leap. That’s why I paint, to find that feeling of satisfaction. And getting to know people is quite fun, sort of.


'Dave Shields', by Elizabeth Shields

‘Dave Shields’, by Elizabeth Shields


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

Women artists mostly – Alice Neel as mentioned above,  Artemisia Gentileschi and Celia Paul. Then also Lucian Freud and Augustus John too.

What, to you, constitutes a good portrait? 

Space, good intelligent and sensitive application and handling of paint. Painterly portraits are good.

I like pictures that make me do a double take, that have something noticeable to them. And those that have a human element. Portraits don’t necessarily need to be a rigid portrayal or strict likeness, but must represent something of the connection between the artist and painting.


'Kat Vaughan', by Elizabeth Shields

‘Kat Vaughan’, by Elizabeth Shields


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

I am planning an exhibition with fellow Lots Road member Sarah Jane Moon and currently working on various commissions and self portraits. My website is


Many thanks Elizabeth, a pleasure to have you on the blog !

(all images and text copyright thelotsroadgroup 2015, please ask permission before use)

Q & A with Mark Stevenson

Between helping install our next group exhibition, ‘Motherhood’, Mark Stevenson catches up with us to share a few words about painting, life and inspiration.

Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson       

How did you become a painter? 

It took a while! At school I went down the science route – even though I wanted to do art I couldn’t – and after university I spent 17 years in the oil industry, exploring for oil and gas.  Just after my 40th birthday I decided to take a break.  It started as a year out but I never turned back. I was inspired and encouraged to paint by my mother, a watercolourist, and by an elderly architect friend.  I joined his life class – pencil, charcoal, pastels – but soon realised I wanted to paint.

I studied first at Lavender Hill Studios, where they take a traditional approach to portrait painting, and then the diploma at Heatherleys where the project based course run by practising artists helps one find one’s own style – eventually.

In painting from life, whether a nude or portrait, it is such a challenge to compose and produce something worth looking at. So initially it was this challenge, and the thrill of composing and developing a painting, studying the landscape of the body or face and getting it on to paper or canvas.  Later it became more about what I get back from painting, expressing myself and getting lost in a painting.  It can be very fulfilling, and very frustrating.

Marta, oil on canvas, 24 x 30cm, 2011

Marta, oil on canvas, 24 x 30cm, 2011

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

I like painterly works, where there is movement and plasticity in the way paint is handled. I’m not keen on photo realism.  It’s no surprise then that I’m inspired by Van Gogh, Lovis Corinth and Freud. Freud is incredible, I like his challenging compositions, relatively limited, subdued palette and bold juxtaposition of colour temperature in his flesh tones. Corinth is just amazing in his virtuoso handling of paint.

What, to you, constitutes a good portrait? 

A likeness is only important to the sitter and people who know the sitter. Any portrait that moves you is a good portrait and far more important. A portrait that draws you in and says something about the inner life of the sitter is a successful work.

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

I don’t have any big projects or themes I’m working on. I have a few portrait commissions coming up and I’ll continue my urban landscape painting when it stops raining.

Many thanks Mark! We hope to see more of your work soon. 

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

From The Newsroom To The Studio: A Chat With Stella Tooth

Over the next month or so we will be blogging about individual members of the lots road group. To start with we have the fabulous journalist turned painter Stella Tooth pictured below:

Stella Tooth painting John Humphrys

A Chat With Stella:

After more than 20 years as a London based journalist and broadcast news pr, you decided to change your blackberry for a paintbrush. Why did you decide to reinvent yourself as a figurative artist mid-life?

Although always artistic, I opted to pursue art as a hobby, after leaving college and university, and made my living, instead, first as a journalist and then as a broadcast news PR. My interest in art was fed by taking evening classes in life drawing and painting. Around 2007 I found that was not enough. A friend introduced me to Heatherley’s School of Fine Art in Chelsea – a school which specialises in figurative art, where Walter Sickert and Michael Ayrton trained. I was heading up publicity for Sky News at the time and I shifted my hours to undertake a portfolio course. My art began to take off, my confidence grew and I was soon hooked! About a year before I left Sky I discovered my portfolio had won me a place on the school’s two year Portraiture Diploma. I talked it over with my husband, Nigel, and we decided I should go for it. I completed the Post Diploma in July 2013 and have been taking portrait commissions throughout. I am now a tutor myself for Sketchout, which provides dynamic drawing classes at the V & A , The Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery and The Courtauld.

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

Figurative art was out of fashion for some time – since Picasso. But there is a renewed interest in it in the UK and, as a British painter, painting in the context of British art, I’m delighted to have the pioneering work of Bacon, Freud, Hockney, Rego, Spencer and more recently Jenny Saville and Ian Drury to look to. I also love the photographic portraits of David Bailey.

What, to you, constitutes a good portrait?

I see a portrait as a collaboration between the sitter and the artist who, like a broadcast journalist, provides a filter for the viewer. Those who sit for me surrender their faces to be painted as I see them not, as in a photograph, at a moment in time, but at this point in their life. So I seek to not just record body language and expression, but to provide an insight into the sitter’s character and life experience.

What has been your most interesting experience as a figurative artist so far?

In 2013 I was among 50 international artists selected to take part in the first Egypt art biennale in Sharm el Sheikh, along with three other artists. The biennale was run under the auspices of three Egyptian ministries: tourism, culture and foreign, with the aim of supporting tourism in the region. During our 10 day stay, we were asked to paint in public – in the town square, inspired by spectacular ‘whirling dervish’ and fire eating performances, in the desert nightclub housed inside a cave ‘La Dolce Vita’ and in the bustling Naama Bay shopping area.

In the grounds of the Sonesta Beach Hotel, where we stayed, we were visited by a stream of ministers as we each painted two 70x80cms pictures for the competition. The pictures were judged at the end of our stay by a panel of international judges, with prizes awarded at a televised gala evening attended by European and Middle Eastern art critics in the landscaped grounds of Le Royal Hotel Resort. Selected pictures then went on show at the hotel until Christmas. The closing night reception, with performances by Egypt’s best known singers and dancers, was attended by the Admiral Governor of South Sinai (whose portrait I was asked to paint). Pierangelo Arbosti was the overall biennale winner and my fellow London artists Rohan Samuel and Annalisa Colombara came 2nd and 5th respectively with Annamaria Dzendrowskyj receiving a biennale plaque. Italian artist Archille Quadrini and I won the Judges’ prizes.

I have to say it was an absolutely exhausting, yet exhilarating, experience to paint alongside other artists from Europe and the Middle East – specialists in watercolour, in oils, in figurative, landscape or abstract art. We had the chance to exchange ideas, to learn new techniques, from the showy display of burning gold leaf onto canvas to the texturising of paint by mixing sand into it. We realised quite quickly that all of us were products of our own, distinct cultural traditions. And, of course, the experience of being part of a shared endeavour gave rise to a camraderie that has produced a lasting legacy of being part of a supportive community of artist friends.

The Hod Carrier, Stella Tooth, oil on canvas, 80x70cms

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


As an ex journalist & news PR, I have begun exploring the on and off air personas of news broadcasters, as a way of uniting my past and present careers. At the BBC and Sky News, I spent a fair amount of my working life looking after the public image of some of the UK’s best known news journalists. I’ve been working on a series of more personal images of them, using the limited amount of time they can give me in their high-pressured working lives to paint colour studies and take reference photos of them in their workplace or in their home studies. So far I have painted BBC Radio 4 Today Presenter John Humphrys at work in Today studio – a first for the show, as they had never had an artist painting live on air! I also painted then ITV News at 10 Presenter Julie Etchingham, who I met at Sky, in the home study where she prepped for the Royal Wedding and caught former BBC Chief Correspondent Kate Adie, who now presents BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent, at the BBC, in between her commitments to promote her new book The Legacy of Women in World War One. Sky News’ former Political Editor Adam Boulton sat for me at his home, just before he moved to a new flat and to a new job as presenter of the channel’s new flagship evening programme. And George Alagiah, who presents BBC Six O’Clock News and GMT on BBC World Service, has sat for me at New Broadcasting House.

What did they think of the experience? Humphrys said: “It’s rather odd having someone do your portrait while you’re working. They say the camera never lies..sadly, neither does the artist. I rather hoped she might iron out the wrinkles!” Etchingham said: “Being scrutinised by an artist’s eye is a world away from sitting in front of a news camera – a far more personal and exposed experience – but the fact I know how gentle and endearing Stella is made it an altogether easier time than I’d imagined.” And Boulton said: “Because we are looking out from ourselves most of us don’t know what we really look like let alone what impression we make – a portrait is the best way to find out and Stella has an artist’s eye and professional insight when it comes to people from the media world like me.”
When I have completed the project if the National Portrait Gallery, set up to record eminent Victorians, happened to come a callin’ I certainly wouldn’t have any problems with that!


My other art stems from curiosity about those with whom we share this global village, particularly the melting pot that is London.  With a lifetime’s passion for reportage, I tell the stories of the buskers, musicians and dancers that inspire my art, exploring themes of separation and connection. Fascinated in the interplay between illustration and fine art, I seek to blur their boundaries.

Many thanks Stella!

You can see more of Stella’s fabulously bold and engaging work via her website  and her  Brighton-based dealer Kellie Miller Arts.

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