From a collection of my earlier portraits.
When I returned to UK from Dubai and Hong Kong it took a while to settle. Renovations on an old country house took so much of my time and I also became obssessed with renovating an old country garden. I took a break from a hectic professional art career and enjoyed life to the full. But my heart wouldn't settle without a brush in my hand.The demands on professional life are great if you are a successful artist.The days where you pick up a brush simply to paint are gone.You have administration to deal with,a diary to organize years ahead and you need to be on top of juggling so many projects and invitations to exhibit.
During this time I was invited to the Felpham Art Trail in Sussex. On my very first visit I met so many fantastic people and artists. From there my participation turned into annual events when possible with each year seeing my growth as an artist and giant leaps in my career. I always came home feeling rejuvenated and even more inspired. I now even look at the trail as my " lucky charm" because following these breaks by the sea I always seemed to have fabulous new opportunities flying my way.
My favourite memory is of my first visit when I met a very proud Grandfather. I was demonstrating a childs portrait at the time and he offered to show me images of his grandson. I fell in love with the sweet face immediately and this child has been a favourite subject ever since. My first painting of Jacob won " Best Painting in Show" at the Farnham Art Society Autumn Exhibition of that year.
I give favourite paintings like the one above to the Grandfather as they couldn't possibly be loved as much by anyone else and I am grateful for the wonderful inspiration. I strongly believe in giving back in life whenever you are blessed to have met someone who has influenced or been kind to you.
This year I asked permission to use Jacob in my first book on watercolour. My wish was granted but when the book started evolving something magical happened. I decided against using Jacob but the Grandafther may have a surprise because he is in it !
I looked at my first book yesterday and at times still can't believe I painted all the images or wrote all the text. I even made a remark to my publisher "Did I really paint that?" which makes me laugh this morning. I know wihout a doubt even if this wasn't my own book I would buy it. I would want to own it and I am so happy to be able to type that line. From start to finish I can see why certain techniques came to life over the years. I have grown so much and I look at the above painting of Jacob and easily see how far my journey with watercolour has come.
The above painting looks very different to how I paint today but how thrilled I was when I created this without a pencil for the very first time. No preliminary sketch at all with this piece.Just colour building up in layers to create the face.
You can read more about the Felpham Art Trail on this link.