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Portraits with beauty and emotion

Melodie Cook, winner of The Artist Award in last year’s Pastel Society annual exhibition, talks to Susie Hodge about her large-scale pastel portraits
Red Monocle, pastel on paper, 391⁄2 ×391⁄2in (100 ×100cm). ‘A self-portrait wearing a monocle, studying the ageing me in close up. This was the first work I submitted to the Pastel Society Open Exhibition and I was delighted when they not only accepted this and another work, but it also won the Conté à Paris Award.’

Even during her successful fashion career, Melodie Cook always wanted to be an artist, and once she had made the decision to pursue it, she did not look back, ‘although from a financial point of view it was a difficult decision!’ In 1977, Melodie went to Italy for three weeks. She remained for 27 years, creating for the fashion industry, and did not paint or draw in the fine art sense for 20 years after leaving school. ‘Towards the end of my career, I attended regular life drawing, painting, printing and sculpture at Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice. When I returned to the UK I did a full-time three-year course in Fine Art including sculpture at the Art Academy in London.’ She also recalls the grounding in fine art she received early on: ‘I was very lucky to have a fantastic art teacher at school who taught drawing the academic way, and gave me an excellent foundation which I still refer to.’

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About The Artist

Enjoy developing your skills and techniques with The Artist. Written by artists and top tutors, for experienced amateur painters and aspiring professional artists, this month's issue offers stage-by-stage demonstrations, illustrated tips and techniques for drawing and painting in watercolour, pastels, acrylic, mixed media, oils and gouache. Learn new techniques for painting winter landscapes, characterful portraits, still lifes, spring flowers and animals. There's also an article encouraging you to step out of your comfort zone to paint unfamiliar subjects and an interview with Professor Christopher Orr MBE, RA revealing his approach to his unusual subject matter and working methods. Plus our marketing expert advises on how to use apps to facilitate your social media posts to help get your work noticed. And when you've completed your best work, why not enter it into our 2019 Open competition for the chance to see your work exhibited, published and win one of over 40 fantastic prizes! Full details are on pages 12 to 13 . Enjoy!