Friday, 25 April 2014

Mi Blog Es Tu Blog - Sarah Jane Moon

Sarah Jane is the recipient of this year's Bulldog Bursary, awarded by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. I have been following her progress at Heatherley's, where I had also studied intermittently, and I always recognise her wonderfully bold portraits that I have seen in the past months at the Lynn Painter- Stainers prize and at the "Motherhood" exhibiton of the Lots Road Group.
This is her contribution to this blog.

Nick & Amanda 2012
oil on canvas, 100 x 75 cm
Private Collection

Who are you:

I am a painter, mostly of people, and occasional printmaker.
Originally from New Zealand I studied Art Theory, English Literature and Japanese at university and have a background in running art galleries and festivals and staging exhibitions, as well as arts writing. 
I came to London somewhat accidentally, via a few years teaching small children in the Japanese countryside, a few in Perth, Western Australia studying and working in the arts and then a year or so in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been living in London since 2008 now and it feels like home although my entire family live in New Zealand and so I try and get back when possible. It’s a place I still feel very connected to.
In London my practice mostly consists of my own painting projects as well as commissions and I work out of my Brixton studio or on location if necessary. Mostly I paint people, but I also enjoy landscape and still life, especially if connected with travel. I love detail and there is always a lot of anecdotal evidence in my paintings, especially when making a portrait. I strive to achieve some sort of formal harmony in terms of colour, line, composition and surface when constructing a picture but usually it is an exercise of fumbling in the dark and I like to remain open to what happens on the canvas.

Despite having always aspired to a career as a painter when a child and teen, I have only been painting solidly for the last 5 years. The first two of these were well spent immersed in The Heatherley School of Art’s portrait painting diploma where I was taught the fundamental skills of observation and picture making. Taught by many varied and excellent working portrait painters, the course provided valuable insight into differing styles of practice and gave one scope to experiment and be expansive in a supportive nurturing environment.
This year I received The Royal Society of Portrait Painter’s Bulldog Bursary, an award that supports and encourages an emerging portrait painter over a 12 month period and it has been invaluable. As well as the mentoring provided by members of the RP it has provided me with the means to expand my painting repertoire in terms of scale and subject matter and has facilitated several very exciting projects.

Why this one:
This painting is very dear to me as depicts two of my very favourite people: Nick & Amanda. I met Nick while studying at The Heatherley School of Fine Art and swiftly identified a fellow student who was serious about the business of painting and always keen to get on. Even now his productivity is impressive and often makes me feel positively lazy. With standards set so high that they were impossible to reach and resulted in much muttering under breath and berating of canvas, brushes, paint and self for not behaving as they should, I knew I had found a comrade in Nick. His love of poetry and characteristic wit and wry humour secured our friendship on tea breaks in the studio and we have kept in touch and remained friends since.
Meeting and getting to know his wife Amanda was a complete treat and together they are some of the most fabulously charismatic and charming people I know.
(You can see Nick’s work and read a little more about him here: )

Something about it:
This painting was made while staying with them in Dumfries over a week or two. We tried various settings and eventually settled on the two of them in bed, which I think is wonderfully intimate and subverts the traditional formality associated with portraits of this kind. It is playful and quirky and completely reflects their somewhat irreverent sense of fun. There are small things of significance in the picture that lend to the narrative, such as the wooden mouse that was part of a wedding present and the fact that Amanda, who comes from a lineage of antiquarian book dealers and yet is very tech savvy, is reading an e-book.
The colours and decorative nature of the painting I think reflect the fairy tale like setting, which is indeed a magical place.

Technical notes:
This painting is oil on canvas, 100 x 75 cm. I stretch my own canvas mostly and from memory this is quite heavy cotton duck (15 ounce?). It was painted on site at the couple’s home (though not entirely in situ!) and mostly from photographs.

Where is it now:
It now hangs in Nick & Amanda’s London home in Chelsea.

Basic Palette:
Titanium White
Lemon Yellow 
Cadmium Yellow 
Yellow Ochre
Cadmium Red 
Alizarin Crimson (Indian Red)
Ultramarine (Cobalt Blue)

(Cerulean Blue)
Raw Umber 
Lamp Black
(those in brackets not always!)


No comments: