St Leonards exhibition explores art of portraiture

Through My Eyes is an exhibition of portraits by Maggie Lloyd (October 1-14) at The Welcome, 55 Sedlescombe Road North, TN37 7DA.

Work by Maggie Lloyd
Work by Maggie Lloyd

Maggie has been painting portraits for many years. She uses a variety of mediums including oil, pastel, crayon and watercolour. The images are painted with great delicacy and have a feel for the subject, she says: she catches not only a likeness but something of the person’s spirit too.

“Painting has been part of me all my life. I left school in the summer of 1967 and started in Eastbourne Art School in September. Then I went on to study in Belfast. Unfortunately the day I got on the plane to go there the newspaper headlines reported a bomb going off in Belfast. It was 1969. I only stayed there a year for many reasons but one was the Troubles, so I did a classic of the 60s and dropped out of college.

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“I originally studied oil painting as that is what was expected.

“However for many years pastel has been my medium of choice and whenever I try another medium I always return to the joy of the soft, dry, messy paint that is pastel.

“I like its fast application and the immense variety that can be got from the combination of different pastels and papers.

“It has led me to search out other painters of this medium and there are many.

“Although often used as a medium to draw the cartoon for a final oil painting in the 18th century the society portrait painter Rosalba Carriera brought pastels into fashion and they have been there ever since, Maurice Quentin de La Tour even using pastels for his portrait of Madame de Pompadour.

“The 19th century saw pastels used by all manner of painters from the Degas, Renoir, and Lautrec to 20th century Picaso, Frank Kupka and Miro. I must mention Wolf Kahn, one of my great inspirations.

“So I am proud to continue the tradition of dry painting in every kind of pastel and to explore its possibilities. That does not stop me enjoying other medium even the humble pencil crayon.

“In the last couple of years I have discovered the delights and versatility of the pencil.

Even lockdown has led me to try again oils. I have avoided them since college because of their long drying time and smell, something not convenient when looking after a houseful of two boys and the comings and goings of their friends. I confess that I have delighted in the medium but I will never lose my love of pastel.

“Pastel is very fast and colourful and while my children were at home and I was also working I kept my hand in by attending evening classes in life drawing, still something I do and love. As an artist I find it very hard to understand how people can see the drawing of nudes as odd and strange. To me the human body in all its shapes is beautiful, and the skill required to put that onto a two-dimensional surface and be recognisable to another person is an real challenge.

“However I have always had the ability to capture a face and my delight in portraiture is genuine. I feel that even when working from a photo – and getting people to sit, especially children, is not easy – I am able to find something more than just copying an image, and often am able to portray something of the personality of the subject. I do like to have met the person or seen more than just one photo, as that can help with the sympathy to the subject.”