I fancied myself as something of a colourist around the the time I started at Saint Martins (1978/79), when this selection of oils on paper dates from. The idea of expressing things like bodily posture and even personality and human attitude through blocks of colour – with just a bit of assistance from drawn lines – was a concept which had interested me since I’d first started looking at pictures by anyone, from Matisse to Mathew Smith.
The paintings here are all of people (including one each of my maternal grandparents) done from life, which even then, was unusual for me – I was always more of a studio artist than a “field artist”. All of my early oil paintings were done on paper (like those presented below) or board. It was only once the generous student grant kicked in (those were the days!), when I’d actually begun at St. Martins, with access to subsidised stretchers and countless yards of cotton duck that I was able to enjoy the use of canvas.
Looking at these pictures now I’m struck by how fresh they look, and despite some pretty crude handling of paint, how closely they portray the subjects.
All in all, they’re not half bad, and the pictures of my much-missed booba and zaida (the bottom two – Becky and Harry Pizan) are surprisingly evocative and poignant- for me at least…