Interviewed by Alice Krespi
I wouldn’t describe myself as a portraitist as such, but rather a painter of people. People stimulate, and their individualities and personality interest me greatly.
Painting a portrait is very much a journey of enquiry. It involves a laborious process of studying the sitter’s physical, material, and emotive presence in the hope that as the painter I may best capture and portray them. I am principally interested in understanding and getting to know the subjects of my portraits, and often this process is most enlightening. I have encountered and met some extraordinary people through this practice.
I paint solely from life as I feel that I am better able to capture the idiosyncrasies of the sitter. A portrait painted from life is a representation of a passage of time and an interaction between the subject and the painter. I do not, personally, use the aid of photography as I feel that there is an isolating finality to a photograph as it captures a minute moment. I prefer to be in control rather than at the whim of a machine.
My classical training at the Royal Academy Schools has influenced my technique since. As a student I was limited to drawing, solely, for an initial period of time. This trained my eyes and taught me to think, to study each subject very closely and carefully. An intent attention to draughtsmanship has since informed my working methods and technique.
I work predominantly in oil, however, I am far from constricted to such a medium. Rather I enjoy working in a plethora of mediums, from watercolours to charcoal or ink. When producing an oil portrait, I first create multiple drawings, from which I sometimes make a study in oil, and then finally the full-sized portrait.