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Portraits with focus

Caroline Saunders talks to winner of The Artist Award in last year’s SWA exhibition, Caroline de Peyrecave, about painting portraits by the sight-size method and capturing the ‘unique aura’ of the sitter
Mark Ormrod, oil on canvas, 863⁄4x391⁄2in (220x100cm), WARpaint project.

‘Mark was injured in Afghanistan and was the first triple amputee. He now owns his own gym. I focused on showing his strength and ability to achieve the almost impossible. For the stark background I used masking tape to create clean, straight lines, and a cool palette of ivory black and cremnitz white. I painted Mark using earth colours and Mars black, which is warmer in tone than ivory black – this projected his prosthetic legs forward. I enjoyed painting the blocks of light on his hair and the reflected cerulean blue on his skin and the weights.’

IN CONVERSATION

Caroline de Peyrecave has a huge passion for portraiture, with a particular interest in foreign faces. ‘The story behind the person is what interests me the most. It is much more rewarding to get to know a person’s family and experience their culture, struggles and aspirations. It becomes imperative to portray them in their surroundings – a painting can make such a fascinating connection between people. When you paint from life the painting becomes a souvenir of that time spent together – a record of a direct interaction.’ Caroline won The Artist Award for her painting Orphan at School, Zimbabwe (right) at the Society of Women Artists’ exhibition in 2016.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our November issue in which our highly talented, experienced artist-tutors challenge you to re-think your approach to complementary colours in watercolour, draw a sight-size self-portrait, capture an autumnal scene in watercolour, dramatise your skies, try graphite techniques, use negative spaces to your advantage, paint a light-filled interior in impressionistic style and master perspective for successful coastal scenes. And that's just for starters! Artist-judge in BBC1's The Big Painting Challenge, Lachlan Goudie, shares his experiences of painting Scotland's shipyards ahead of his forthcoming exhibition, Nick Poullis offers tips on setting up your own gallery, Julie Collins advises on colour choices for yellow, Michele Del Campo test reports Winsor & Newton's Artists' Oil Colours, including his top tips for oils painters, and Peter Burgess takes a practical look at materials for painting and how best to store them. Enjoy another inspirational issue packed with ideas and advice for all artists!