Johnny and Sara

Jonny and Sara

Jonny Grimshaw

Jonny was an influential person in my youth. The father of two friends from school, he was a colourful and unique dad. He loved to paint and write poetry and went to every gig his son and daughter played. (They’re still musicians.)His paintings were all over the family home and he had an amazing record collection. He made nettle tea for us and taught me to smoke a pipe. So many stories, scrapes and adventures. Much loved, he passed away during lockdown.

This is the beginning, an under painting in Indian Red of Jonny in a typical pose for him. He loved to take photos and be photographed and documented life in that way.

Sara is a friend, mother , teacher, wife and maker of beautiful socks. Her husband commissioned me to paint her portrait as a gift. Brave man. Thankfully it worked out fine and she likes it. The image I worked from was meant to be for a a passport photo . The landscape is imagined but has a Wiltshire flavour. I like the honesty of the expression, there’s no artifice.

I love the challenge of a portrait. It’s what I began my journey into art with. No one told me it was supposed to be difficult so I had ignorance and naivety on my side. I became a little obsessed and couldn’t look at a face without imagining in detail how I would render it in paint. Disconcerting for the person who’s face I was scrutinising no doubt, but it made me aware of the process of learning to look and see that I was undergoing. More marked perhaps in the case of portrait painting as there is a part of the brain dedicated to facial recognition. Apparently in portrait painters this brain area is larger, presumably made so by the act of painting faces.

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