Capturing characters

Work continues as normal for me during the current Covid19 lockdown. Sketching, paintings and getting out on short local walks is really my daily routine. I am able to get lots of preliminary work done for the Lakeland 365 project. These sketches get posted as a daily “Guess the fell” quiz across my social media platforms.

It was whilst I was sorting out my archive of previously completed works that I came across a couple of photographs of watercolour paintings which I produced about 25 years ago. Considering how long ago they were painted I was surprised just how accomplished they were. Many people will not realise that I had quite a wide portfolio of subjects in my early days of being a professional artist.

Just for interest I posted them up on social media and I must say, I was humbled and surprised by the reaction.

The Dalesman watercolour
The Dalesman

The portraits were of characters that I saw whilst working in the dales, faces that had a story to tell were of interest to me, farmers, shepherds and gamekeepers were all possible subjects.

The Gamekeeper watercolour
The Gamekeeper.

In general these watercolours were about 9″ x 7″ in size and I sold them on a regular basis. (The Gamekeeper was in fact purchased by The Duke of Norfolk.)

Of course, once I undertook the Wainwrights in Colour project subjects like these were totally put to one side.

Over recent days since I have posted these examples on Twitter and Facebook I have been asked if I will be posting any more. Well, I am always up for a challenge…… In addition I was also curious for myself as to whether I could still produce such work, after all, painting the lake district fells is a different skill to capturing the likeness of a person.

But give it a go is what I have done……only in pencil for now though.

The Quarryman sketch
The Tilberthwaite Quarryman

This portrait of a Quarryman from Little Langdale was taken off my own photograph. I had a good chat to him and his son when I passed by their workshop high on the fellside about a year ago. I loved the texture of his face, which was covered with the dust and grim of his work. Of course, I could sit down and portray famous folk but for me it’s the fact that for a brief moment I had personal contact with this man, we chatted about his work, my work and general subjects. In this portrait I see this man, maybe one of a dying breed. And I drawing him brings back memories of that chance meeting. I would like to think that I have captured something of his personality.

More importantly, in producing a portrait of a normal working man I tested myself on my drawing skills. Using just 2 pencils and minimum amount of erasing I was looking to give a convincing depiction of dimension, depth and texture to the face, the subject matter is almost secondary. It is the drawing skills which I wish to be judged on not on the fact that it looks something like a celebrity. Yes, there is perhaps room for improvement but I am rather pleased with the result.

After a 25 year layoff of this sort of subject I am now inspired to perhaps produce more…….another idea to add to my ever growing list of ideas and subjects. Watch this space.

Thanks for reading.


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