It’s exhibition time!

Do please come along to the first show of Michael’s paintings since 2000. On show will be lots of works not seen publicly until now, plus a few favourites, and a new range of 5 beautiful and affordable giclee prints, including Tea Party (as seen on the poster below.) Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Picture Post 16: Circus People

MR 504 Circus people, oil on canvas, 1060x1370 1990s, unsized

MR 504 Circus People, oil on canvas, 1060 x 1370 1990s.

This large scale painting features a group of circus performers from Romania. Perhaps surprisingly, the inspiration was a small black and white photograph, the date is uncertain. The colour in Michael’s sketches for this work (see selection below) was established from the beginning. Continue reading “Picture Post 16: Circus People”

Picture post 15: The Chef

 

MR 87 The Chef, charcoal and chalk on paper, 520 x 740
MR 87 The Chef. Charcoal & pastel on paper. 1985. 520 x 740

This large-scale sketch was done in 1985 while Michael worked in the maintenance department at the Garden House Hotel (now DoubleTree by Hilton) in Cambridge. Continue reading “Picture post 15: The Chef”

Picture post 14: Study for The Third Man

MR 60 Study for The Third Man, acrylic on card, 315x410, 1990s

Cinema was enormously important to Michael’s work. As a child he had seen films at the local cinema in Portswood, Southampton, initially with his mum and grandma, then later with a bunch of friends. As a painter, he loved to look through a camera viewfinder at a potential subject for a painting; the framing makes subtle changes to the brain’s perception of what the eye sees. Continue reading “Picture post 14: Study for The Third Man”

Picture post 13: flowering Apple Tree

MR 48 Apple tree, oil on canvas, 340 x 315, 1981.

One of Michael’s early influences was Vincent Van Gogh, which is clear in this small painting of a flowering apple tree in the family garden in Cambridgeshire. He had recently visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and was working through some ideas gleaned from the trip. The paint is thickly applied on the canvas and the colours sing through the layers, reflecting the layers of  blossom on a tree. Michael preferred to paint from life at this point, he didn’t use photographs as a reference until much later, so this painting really captures a moment in time.

Picturepost 11: Soho Hairdresser

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MR 78 Soho hairdresser, acrylic on card, 235×165, 1990.

One damp and cold winter’s evening on a family visit to London, Michael’s attention was captured by the lights, colours and activity in a hairdresser’s shop in Soho. He stood outside the door, sketching with oil pastels until he had enough information on the page, but not before his three small children had loudly stated their utter boredom with waiting for him to finish. The black panel on the right side indicates his constant testing the boundaries of composition and also prefigures his experiments with dense blocks of colour that we’ve seen in Picturepost 1 (Closed Visits) and Picturepost 3 (Grantchester Meadows).

Picturepost 10: Study for ‘Poll Tax Riots’

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MR 58 Study for Poll Tax Riots, acrylic on card, 345×515, 1991

The Poll Tax Riots exploded onto British streets in March 1990 in response to the introduction that year of the Community Charge. The widespread newspaper coverage provided plenty of images for Michael to begin a series of works, which culminated in a large oil painting of a rioting crowd, which will be the subject of a future post. This b/w gouache sketch captures the intense anger many people felt about the imposition of what came to be called the poll tax. He was naturally attracted to the challenge of conveying emotion and energy in his work; sometimes the atmosphere would be calm and quiet but with events like this he was inspired by the energy that drove the action. He always tried to remain apolitical, but actually he was strongly against the policies of Margaret Thatcher’s government, believing that the existence of the working class was threatened by their policies.