London from November 1961 to February 1963
Slowly but surely over the painting of around 100 paintings many of which have survived the intervening 30 years, my style became more figurative. My only concession to figurative form was to draw outlines of the subject and to segment the work in order to be able to give it my colour treatment. I did not use perspective and had not grasped the elements of light and shadow. I did not want to use my precious colour to express shadow and light. Colour is for expressing emotion, mood, character. I had to explore colour to the limit of my awareness.
At this time I started sketching in charcoal. I would go to Trafalgar Square and do rapid sketching of everybody and anybody in the square. Willing subjects were endless and I grew to enjoy expressing people using quick strokes of the stick. It also taught me the value and depth that figurative form could bring to my work. It filled in lots of hours of time between painting sessions.
Shortly after I came to London, I thought I might try meeting people through an art college. I turned up one day at one, I can't remember which, but I think it was in Hammersmith. Anyway, it was somewhere between Kensington and Hammersmith. I asked if I could join the classes. Nobody seemed to mind, so I joined in. It did not seem to cost anything either. I couldn't understand it.
I thought I might try modelling portraits in clay. I felt it might suit me. It was such an exciting medium. My hands seemed to talk to the clay and I had an uncanny way with it. The model for the first bust left before I could finish it but I knew that I had a gift in working with clay.
My second bust was an excellent look a like to the model. When I was nearly finished, I turned to the eyes to give them life. I can't stand the blank, blind stares of the solid eyeball. Eyes are so important in expressing a personality. I dug out some clay and gave the eye a look of intensity. I finished.
I stood back and studied my handiwork. At this point the tutor, having ignored me all the while, which I appreciated very much, strode up and said, "You don't do eyes like that" and promptly, with his spatula, smoothed out the eyes. I was absolutely furious with him. but said nothing.
As soon as his back was turned, I lifted the bust off the pedestal and dumped it back in the clay bin. I left - sadly and with regret and have never worked in clay since. He was so insensitive. It did not occur to him to ask me why I did my eyes that way. He could have left me alone. He didn't and confirmed my view about art school and how you could be moulded into a look alike.
Then I somehow heard about a private art school in Pimlico. It was called The Heatherly Art School. It was a pay as you go place. It seemed to cater for well off young ladies and perhaps a few men with well heeled parents.
I liked it very much. There was a regular supply of models, young, old, male and female. The tutors were unobtrusive and let me do exactly what I wanted. I must have made it clear to them that was what I wanted. I was becoming challenged by form and I sought ways of incorporating it into my art. I shunned shadow and light. Colour had to do the talking.
I started doing narrative work and landscapes.
As the money ran out, so my resolve to carry on waned. I was becoming dissatisfied with my direction. I needed to pause to re-evaluate what I was doing. I felt but could not at the time verbalise the reasons for my dissatisfaction that the flat forms and flat colour were missing depth and missing some of the essential meaning in my vision.
I needed time to think and to build security from which I could relaunch my artistic career. Meanwhile I would continue to study, to observe, to paint in my head, to learn from the Masters, to learn about light and shadow, to study perspective. This I did in my head for 31 years.
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