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Seven Portraits & A Still Life

By Mary Garthwaite

Mary Garthwaite, Consultant Urological Surgeon at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough writes:

“It all began in 2017 with a new garage roof and a portrait painting class. Having left art behind 28 years ago to pursue a career in medicine, I often muttered that I missed it and longed to have a go again.

The opportunity to create my own studio at the back of the garage was the push I needed to take the plunge and sign up for a class. Little did I know then that painting would become a precious activity through which I could temporarily escape from the personal challenges I faced in 2018.

I can no longer imagine my life without my art."

Ted: acrylic on canvas ... view full-screen version

... this was my first commission. The request was made on the back of seeing my first and, at that time, only portrait. I will be eternally grateful for the trust they had in me because it gave me the confidence to continue. It was also a way of determining that I could paint spectacles!"



Forgive: acrylic on paper ... view full-screen version

... this monochrome study was a way of concentrating on tone rather than colour, in order to bring the face alive. It is the eyes which fascinate me most when painting the human face. They truly are the windows of the soul."



Salvador: acrylic on canvas ... view full-screen version

... this was a two hour study painted largely without the use of brushes. It's one of my favourite pieces."



Benjamin; acrylic & oil on canvas ... view full-screen version

... this was my second commission. It came from my dear friends, colleagues and neighbours the Fulfords. I was rather anxious about painting a child's porcelain-like skin, hence the use of oil over acrylic to achieve a smooth effect."



Wild Man: charcoal on paper ... view full-screen version

... this charcoal on paper portrait gives a wild look to the face and has hence been nicknamed 'The Wild Man'. I enjoy the looseness of charcoal which allows you to work directly with your hands on the paper and create a range of marks. Creating a joyous mess of everything surrounding the picture is just part of the process."



Pear & Grapes: acrylic & oil on canvas ... view full-screen version

... this is my first foray into still life and I'm pretty pleased with the result. More will surely follow."



Cloche Hat Girl: pencil & ink on canvas ... view full-screen version

... this began as a simple pencil sketch in preparation for a painting. However, after applying a subtle ink wash I decided that the delicate effect suited the subject so well that I merely completed the portrait in pencil. "



Study in Oil: oil on canvas ... view full-screen version

... this study in oil was a way of investigating tonal value and contrast in a portrait, whilst starting to get to grips with how to handle oil paint. I decided to leave the figure only half completed as it emphasised the contrast."


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