Q & A with Colleen Quill

Our next Q & A comes from painter Colleen Quill. She chats with us about her move from the board room to art studio, a recent commission for SOAS and her love of colour and loose brushwork.

Colleen Quill

Colleen Quill

How did you become a painter? Why portraiture? 

As a child, I was always drawing and my interest in figures and faces was sparked by the wonderful hand-drawn animations of the early Disney films.

I started a career in window dressing with a short stint in a shipping office, but found I was sketching caricatures of the directors in the board room rather than concentrating on my shorthand, so the decision was made to follow a career in art and take a fine art degree.

With a portfolio of such drawings I was accepted at Chelsea School of Art where I discovered the joy of working with oil paint and the thrill of using colour.

Colleen Quill

Colleen Quill in the studio

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

Bonnard and Matisse are a huge inspiration with regard to colour and design, but the works of Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Cezanne and Manet were my early inspiration.

Academic study revealed the old Masters; Rembrandt, Velasquez, Zurberan and Vermeer being favourites for their supreme expertise, and the expressive drawings of Kathe Kolwitz and Egon Schiele which I’m always referring to.

At present, more contemporary painters such as Diebenkorn for example and Sargy Mann fascinate me with their loose handling of paint and exciting use of colour.

The passion for painting has never left me and I approach each new work with a sense of excitement, whether it be new figurative painting, a portrait commission or, more recently, rich unusual and slightly more abstracted still life subjects.

Portrait by Colleen Quill, 100 x 75 cm

Portrait by Colleen Quill, 100 x 75 cm

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

Having just completed a commission of Sir Cyril Philips, for SOAS, I’m now, along with the 15 other members of the Lots Road Group, working on a portrait of a member of the UK International Women’s Forum. The portraits of each of these exceptional women will be exhibited in May in Chelsea Town Hall in celebration of their 25th Anniversary year.

My website is

Thanks so much Colleen, a pleasure to have you on the blog !

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


Announced ! Our Next Big Project…

As many of you will know this Sunday 8th March people around the world will be celebrating International Women’s Day and so it seemed only fitting that this is the week we let you all in on the Lots Road Group’s next big project. Our artists have been meeting and researching their sitters, priming their canvases and getting down to the very challenging business of making portraits. 

Portrayed ! 25 Years of Inspiring Women:

Our next show is set to open on the 26th May at the Chelsea Gallery and will celebrate and commemorate The International Women’s Forum UK‘s 25th Anniversary with portraits of 16 of its most inspiring women – its 4 founders and first 12 chairs.

IWF UK is part of the International Women’s Forum, an organisation which advances leadership across careers, cultures and continents by connecting the world’s most pre-eminent women of significant and diverse achievement. With over 5000 women leaders across 6 continents and 33 nations, the IWF has unprecedented global reach to exchange ideas, learn and inspire, and promote better leadership for a changing world.

The portraits have been created by artists in the Lots Road Group – artists who all studied at The Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea, one of the few art colleges that focus purely on portraiture, figurative painting and sculpture. Together they have captured in oils, acrylics, pastel, and print the 16 women who founded or chaired IWF UK during its first 25 years.


Christine Klein painting Susan Young

Christine Klein painting Susan Young



Susan Young, who chaired the organisation during its 25th year and championed the initiative said:

”I am delighted to embark on this special collaboration with the Lots Road Group. This is a wonderful opportunity to capture the essence of our leaders on canvas and represent inspiring leadership in an innovative medium.”

We’re all very excited about the show (details for your diary below) and cannot wait to share what we’ve all been up to with you. Many of our sitters are truly inspiring women, leaders in their respective fields and have been real game changers for business, politics, sports and other aspects of life in the UK. To give you further insight into the process of connecting with these women we will also have a catalogue containing information about our artists and sitters available online and on sale at the exhibition.

We hope to see you at the Chelsea Gallery in May !

Exhibition Venue: The Chelsea Gallery, Chelsea Library, Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road SW3 5EZ

Exhibition Dates: Tuesday 26th May to Sunday 7th June 2015.

For further information please contact Stella via

** all images and text copyright thelotsroadgroup 2015.

‘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 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.

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

Tim Benson on ‘Motherhood’ (Part One)

Tim Benson, Vice President of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters and brilliant portrait painter, reveals a sneak peek of the Lots Road Group’s first exhibition, ‘Motherhood’.

This is the first of two parts:






‘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 and I have a facebook page here.

Many thanks Sarah Jane! 

(all images and text copyright thelotsroadgroup 2014, 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)

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 (Some sales of the book will see a percentage given in aid of Oxfam’s Mothers 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

‘It’s all about light, shadow, space and colour’: Q & A with Lucinda Rendall

In our next post we briefly catch up with Lucinda Rendall, member of the Lots Road Group and another alumnus of the Heatherley School of Art. She lets us in on current projects she has ongoing and her inspiration for painting portraits.

Lucinda Rendall

Lucinda Rendall

How did you become a painter?

Having always had an interest in drawing and painting from a young age, I took up painting seriously when I had more time after having bringing up a family and dealing with other commitments.

What drew you to portraiture in particular? 

In 2006 I went to an exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery to see the portraits by David Hockney. I was fascinated by his work and decided that I would like to concentrate on portraiture and figurative painting.

'Ellen by her Aga', Lucinda Rendall, oil on canvas, 50x40 cm, 2012

‘Ellen by her Aga’, Lucinda Rendall, oil on canvas, 50×40 cm, 2012

Which other artists do you look for inspiration and why?

Cezanne and Bonnard as their paintings have a great sense of colour, light and space.

Richard Diebenkorn, Linda Christenson and Melinda Cooksona as they are all figurative and abstract oil painters that I admire. Their colours are inspiring.
What, to you, constitutes a good portrait?

A good portrait in my view should be atmospheric. There should be something interesting in the composition or expression that draws you in. It’s all about light, shadow, space and colour.

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

I am working in a converted cowshed studio on the outskirts of the picturesque village of Alfriston in East Sussex. I continue to be interested in figurative painting. I am currently working on a series of portraits of people in their kitchens and making studies of people grape picking and pruning the vines on a vineyard under the South Downs. I am planning to revisit my special subject of cows and poultry.

My website is

Many thanks Lucinda!

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