This month I'd like to introduce artist Ian Brown who lives and works in Cornwall. Ian doesn't show in my gallery but is married to an artist friend of mine which is how we met. Last month Ian invited me to spend a day in his studio in the role of artist's muse. Well, the show-off in me couldn't resist. Ian paints the human form and is particularly interested in the visibility of women of a certain age. He has various projects running currently, one being swimsuits which I sat for, black and white dresses being another. It was an interesting experience to be involved in the creative process for a change: I've visited artists in their studios many times, but always to view work or to choose pieces for exhibitions. Let's continue with the Q & A section shall we?
How long have you been an artist?
I would say that I have been an artist since my early teens although I did not attend art school until my mid 20’s and I am now 63 so you do the math .
Francisco Goya 1746 - 1828, Portrait of the Duchess of Alba, New York Hispanic Society.
Francisco Goya 1746 - 1828, The Duchess of Alba in White, Liria Palace, Madrid
What's the story behind the black and white dresses?
The dresses came out of the knowledge that an artist I admire Euan Uglow used to dress his models including wigs to suit his painting so I immediately warmed to the idea of dressing my sitters. I had been looking at Goya and chose the paintings he did of the duchess of Alba as the basis for a series of portraits of women I know of my generation . I then set about finding dresses that had what I felt was some Spanish influence but were also not something my sitters would be likely to have in their wardrobe . I wanted to convey a sort of body glamour usually the domain of the young .
Have you exhibited any of these paintings yet or do you have plans to?
Ian Brown 1953 -, Valda, artist's studio, Cornwall.
I have not exhibited them yet. One was shortlisted for the National Open Art Competition and a second is shortlisted to be hung at the RWA autumn exhibition in Bristol .
What brought you to live in Cornwall?
My wife the artist Janet Lynch persuaded me away from London although I have continued to exhibit in London through Beardsmore Gallery who represented me until earlier this year until they retired .
I know you're a fellow Scot. Tell me where is your favourite place in Scotland and why?
One of my favourite places is Portencross on the Clyde . It figured initially as an exotic place where a friend of my grandfather kept a boat, and later in my adult life in the years just before art school, a friend and mentor (Alasdair Taylor) lived in a cottage there without electricity although it was the nearest inhabited building to Hunterston nuclear power station.
If you weren't an artist what would you like to be?
Probably a professional sportsman of some kind , I have played golf for Cornwall.
Finally, if you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
At the moment Florence and or Madrid to see paintings of course.
This final shot was taken at the end of the session. I had spotted a painting in the corner of the studio, a women of about my age, wearing these Barbie leggings. Ian and I chatted about how it came about, and lo and behold, the afternoon descended into a bit of dressing up for me. As a girl who spends every day pulling pieces of clothing together to create a-less-than-ordinary outfit, this didn't seem at all unusual. I love the randomness of all of these elements which somehow came together as they did to give me a photograph like no other. Ian has captured the joy of being within this 58 year old body - I'll cherish this forever.