“In his book “ Outliers”, Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness”. If this is the case, then my time at The Art Academy studying for the Contemporary Portrait Diploma should have gone some way towards totting up those hours. I embarked on this journey two years ago and in that time The Art Academy has become my second home, spending four days a week rushing along the back roads from London Bridge station, carrying canvasses and my ubiquitous painting trolley up several flights of stairs daily, with the camaraderie of painting friends, tutors, models and the office staff becoming a huge part of my daily life. Our frequent coffee break dashes to Pret and our beloved Borough Market have resulted in us being on first name terms with the staff and becoming regarded as regulars.
I came to The Art Academy because of the calibre of its tutors and have not been disappointed – it is quite something as a portrait artist to have your tutors’ work on permanent collection in the Portrait Gallery. The past two years have been rigorous to say the least with my family having to cope with me often being too tired to string a sentence together at the end of a days painting, as well as having to share the kitchen (my studio) with an ever growing collection of large canvasses.
I have truly appreciated the emphasis attached to drawing as the foundation of all artistic skill with our tutors always pushing us to new levels of observation and giving so freely of their expertise in understanding colour and light. A 3500 word essay on aspects of portraiture as well as presentations every term on our Studio practice projects have propelled me from the scientific way of expression to what I term “Art speak” and has been particularly challenging. My view of myself as an artist has been enhanced by the focus on professional development in which we are required to understand and to prepare to launch ourselves into the Art world with advice on marketing, website design and how to take advantage of art world activities.
My turning point courses have been doing a portrait sculpture course with Suzie Zamit and completing a painted portrait of the same model; overcoming my dislike for painting from photographs thanks to Ed Sutcliffe; learning the wonder of colour from Brendan Kelly, Andy James and Robin Lee Hall as well as learning about bold brushstrokes from Tai Shen Schierenberg and Tim Benson. The list is endless and my time at The Art Academy has been transformative.
I was delighted this year to have my work accepted for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibition at The Mall galleries and felt honoured to be exhibiting alongside no less than seven of my Art Academy tutors. My next step after my grad show involves preparing for my solo exhibition to be held in Bermuda in May 2018 titled “The People of Bermuda” as part of my appointment as Artist in residence at The Masterworks Gallery of Bermuda. I will miss The Art Academy and everyone in it……(and especially Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market !) but I know that the relationships forged these past two years will endure and that we will continue to share in our love of painting.”