Saturday was the day of the Arts Festival at the college, and I set myself up (in more ways than one) in the quad with my easel and materials to paint people’s portraits as I had last year.
It unsurprisingly proved very popular again, but I found it much harder going than last year for some reason. I’ve just done all these small, observed still lives, which were a similar scale, and I think this influenced my approach. Last year I worked much more quickly, but this time I got bogged down as I found myself pushing and pushing the paintings as I struggled with trying to get a likeness in the wind and rain and feeling under such close scrutiny as people stood inches behind me communicating to the sitter whether the picture was any good or not. I don’t normally mind, I just think I’m demonstrating the craft skills in my work, and I couldn’t set up like this if I did, but this year was mentally very exhausting. All sounds fun, doesn’t it? It wasn’t and I’m not in a hurry to do it again.
I made eight paintings in all, with some of them looking good on this scale. What has come out of the experience that is more positive, is the planting of the seed of an idea that it may be interesting to attempt to make some more portraits directly like this like I have with the still lives. I normally make them from drawings so I can scale them up to any size I like and get sharper detail to work from. We’ll see…I think the visit to Scandinavia might be a good opportunity to do some new portrait work for the first time in about three years.
Finally, on a more positive note I sold three of the still life paintings. Hurrah!