I have first met Melissa years ago in Hearherley's where I was studying. The class was very surprised to learn about her process and be handed out some of the minuscule brushes that she uses and buys in bulk. In these years my admiration for her detailed and intricate paintings has steadily grown, I particularly love not only the way in which she fearlessly takes on these incredibly complicated subjects but also the London she chooses to paint; for me it's the real thing: red bricks, kids in hoodies, the all-British love for plants and gardens.
We will be showing together in the Portrait Painters Today exhibition in three weeks time.
WHO ARE YOU ?
I was born in London,1959. Studied at the Slade 1977-81.
Since then I have been painting, mainly views of London,street scapes and park scapes, and portraits of those closest to me,also a lot of self-portraits.
I had four of my self portraits hanging in the BP portrait exhibition in the nineties and since 1999 have been a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
I do some commissions but mainly paint portraits of my daughter and son, at least one a year each since I had them!
I am also a member of the New English Art club and exhibit in various galleries, I've had paintings in the Royal Academy Summer Show about twenty times, and in 2008 I won first prize in the Lynn Painter strainers prize exhibition. I also teach at Heatherleys, the Prince's Drawing School and the Art Academy and the New English drawing school.
WHY THIS PAINTING ?
I chose this painting because I have just finished it two days ago, I haven't gone off it yet! I have painted this view of the Regents Canal quite a few times. This is the first autumn version. I like to paint from life, I get totally absorbed trying to concentrate on each tiny detail and bring it to life and I love to be outside painting battling with the elements. At the end of the day, struggling back often on the underground carrying a big canvas and pulling a trolley with all my paints and field easel, I feel like I have done a good day's work! Also I love this subject, it sums up the London I know because it shows different ways of life existing together;the big posh houses, populated by well to do Islington families and at the bottom of their gardens the house boats where the inhabitants struggle with their generators and stoves, bicycles and pots and pans tied to the roofs of their boats and characters like the guy in the painting, walking his three dogs. Also, I love to try to capture light: in this case I started it on a very bright and sunny November day, there were a few days like that in a row and I got most of it down over those few days from 12-3 , then I had to wait when the weather turned rainy and I had to be patient and hope that the sunny days were ones when I wasn't teaching!
WHERE IS IT NOW ?
On my living room wall!
Just the fact that I draw everything out first on the canvas with charcoal, taking a couple of days sometimes to get it right ,then I fix it and fill it in using five nought brushes, hardly ever going back to an area. I just paint six square inches a day about. It's not the way you're supposed to paint ,which I rather like! But it's just the way I've found to do it.
Cadmium yellow lemon
Cadmium yellow medium