As a child I always loved painting and drawing, but wasn’t tempted by art school, in spite of encouragement from an inspiring art teacher. I saw art as pleasure rather than work. I continued painting in my spare time, and had a special fondness for domestic still lives, which I now realise were rather like portraits. My mother was born in Holland, which is perhaps why I love Vermeer, Rembrandt and Pieter de Hoogh. Most of the items in our thatched cottage, plus various fruit and veg that we grew in the garden, ended up in artistic arrangements in my daubings over the years. It didn’t occur to me at the time that painting a cauliflower is not very different to painting a face.
I discovered my passion for portraits nearly 10 years ago, when I signed up for a course run by Bedford sculptor Tony Clark, to make a modelled head out of clay. It was very ‘hands on’, as Tony encouraged us to get up close in the pursuit of accuracy. We had a very patient live model, who had to put up with being measured, peered at and even marked with felt pens. I learned a huge amount in these classes, and found them totally absorbing. It was only after I had completed my third sculpted head, and Tony had announced his retirement, that I heard that the Bedford Art Society runs a weekly Portrait Group. I lost no time in signing up. The great thing about this welcoming and talented group is that we have no teacher to tell us what we are doing wrong – we learn by our own experience - which is why each of us has developed a distinct individual style.
I experimented with different media, and was lucky enough to get valuable guidance from Bedford artist Mike Croker, whose summer courses I attend whenever I can. I have also been able to study the techniques of the professional artists who demonstrate at the monthly meetings of the Bedford Art Society. Whenever I get the chance I call in to the National Portrait Gallery, and I always try to catch the annual BP Portrait Award exhibition. I love that moment of emerging from the doors of the Portrait Gallery and finding I am literally seeing the world through new eyes. Each face I see is a picture which tells a story, and I want to capture them all on paper.
My favourite medium is pastel, with charcoal as a close second. I love my box of Rembrandt Portrait Pastels, which give me a very subtle range of colours. Rembrandt is still my greatest inspiration, and I have travelled to many of the world’s great art galleries to see his work. His ability to capture emotion just takes my breath away.
The reason I love creating portraits is because I am a 'people person’ - I just can’t get excited about painting landscapes or buildings. My extrovert nature is an advantage, because I am able to draw on an endless succession of new models for our Portrait Group from my wide circle of friends and neighbours. It was sharing some of my portraits on Facebook which has brought me to the point of promoting my services through this website. I was surprised to receive several commissions to create portraits, and found the challenge totally enjoyable. I feel very lucky to have unexpectedly uncovered a talent which gives great pleasure to me as well as to others.