The first time I ever painted a portrait was in 1982. I was having some problems with someone I had just split up with. I wanted to get out of Southampton for a while – funny how that figured a lot through my life.
I had half attempted portraiture at school, but wasn’t exactly inspired by our art teacher. Over the years that I painted many portraits in both Southampton and Bournemouth I would have loved to let him know. The guy had a lot to answer for.
Portrait Artist at Butlins
Portrait Artist at Clacton
I saw a job advertised in Clacton-on-sea. A pastel portrait artist at Butlins and phoned up to enquire. The agency was desperate to get someone up there the next day. Which was probably why they hired me. I assured them I could do portraits – even though I had never actually done one before.
(obviously I never told them that) and the only examples of work I had to show them were pictures of Spiderman, and Batman .I did say they were desperate! So the next day I was off to Butlins. Luckily the girl I worked with was brilliant and a great artist. So I spent a couple of days watching how she did it – and I was a portrait artist!
It was very pressurised. We were expected to get someone sat in front of us and complete the portrait in pastels in around 20 minutes. Great training ground and I pulled it off. The funniest thing about Clacton was that most of the holiday makers were catholic families from the North of England.
In our spare time we practised by doing portraits from magazines of celebrities. I managed to find a photo of the pope. So was watched by all of these Northerners as I did a portrait of Pope John Paul. Within 30 minutes.
I was inundated with orders. Not to paint the people watching me work, but to do them a painting of the pope. I still laugh when i think there are probably still many pastel portraits of the pope that I did adorning catholic homes in Liverpool and Newcastle.
Anyway, it was a great training arena and over the years I have painted many portraits. Mainly in watercolour as I find it the best portrait medium, and was very lucky to have such a great (if rather unorthodox) entry into portrait painting.