How to become a recognised portrait artist without trying

13 Mar

This is the story of how I went from drawing a dead tree to being a local portrait celebrity within one afternoon…

It was the hight of summer ’09. Working in a Sixth Form College meant I was mostly unemployed over the summer months. I lived just up the road from Victoria Park at the time and spent no where near enough time there.

According to friends I know who love East End history, Victoria Park was the first park space in London for working people. During the Second World War trenches were dug there for those who didn’t have shelters to hide from the falling bombs. Its really beautiful.

So I decided to go there to draw. I’ve never been too good at drawing trees and there, in the middle of all of the lush green of summer, was one tree with no leaves. Just a beautful bare skeleton. I went with my sketchbook; an old nature book with pages painted nearly blank (no intinidating whiteness of paper to over come), and my trusty black biro. I LOVE biros for drawing. I used to get really hung up about getting everything correct and perfect. Got myself into the habbit of using a biro to force myself to let go. Just get it on the paper. No going back. 

So there I was, pen in hand, sketching away. All of the little branches stretching towards the sun, but unable to muster the energy for leaves.

There were loads of people in the park. It was the school holidays so there were loads of kids around. There was a group of 10-ish year olds playing football by me. Their ball came my way a few times and I threw it back. Then they got interested in what I was doing. “Are you an artist?” They asked. “Nar I just like practicing to draw” I replied. “Lets have a look” they asked. So they flicked through my book. “Wow, you’re like a lady Banksy” they said without any sarcasm. Hahaha Lady Banksy! They asked me to draw them. I couldn’t while they were playing football. So they decided to sit with me and I drew each of their portraits one by one. There were 5 of them and they wouldn’t sit for long. I managed to get pretty good likenesses in a messy, quick biro kinda way. One of their parents came over and she sat with us too.

As I finished all the drawings they asked me to sign them, in case I got famous. They all took their portraits home, please to have met an artist in the park (hahaha).

I saw them now and again over the following few months and they’d always say “look there’s the art lady!”

So there you go. If you want to become a recognised portrait artist without trying, go and draw in a public place where there are children around. Chat to people and just offer. The next thing you know you’ll be a local celebrity, the next best thing since Banksy!



2 Responses to “How to become a recognised portrait artist without trying”

  1. kamonnart March 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    first of all thanks for your comment..
    i was in London in summer’09 too but didn’t go to Victoria park. i stayed around Southbank
    your drawing of a tree is great. i lke trees without leaves. and ‘Lady Banksy’ is kinda bravo. hahaha 🙂

    • foolsprints March 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

      South Bank is the place to be in Summer, especially for sketching. I’m looking forward to the weather warming up So I can go there lots 🙂

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