Tuesday, October 22, 2019


The portrait I've been working on, which is now finished, is of the brilliant cartoonist Steven Appleby. I've always loved his work, his comic strips for the Guardian and other publications, his books, his absurd/astute/surreal/absolutely real sense of humour, very much in tune with how I see things. It was the happiest of coincidences that he was one of the judges of the Laydeez Do Comics 2019 Award for a graphic novel-in-progress and that I won one of the awards.

Iit was fantastic to meet Steven at the prize-giving event at the Free Word Centre on 31 March this year and, of course, to know that he liked my work. I asked if I could paint his portrait. He agreed and we arranged times when he could come and sit for me. In between sittings I worked from some photos I took. 

I think my portrait captures something more inward than outward in his expression. Steven is a man who dresses as a woman. He transvests, not occasionally but all the time. It's who he is. I found this quality fascinating and enlightening. It made the issue of gender totally irrelevant and at the same time crucial. I don't feel there is anything odd or artificial about his appearance, on the contrary, it seems natural and beautiful to see male and female characteristics in one person. Here is Steven Appleby, cartoonist par excellence, proud to call him my friend.

Steven Appleby. NdA 2019. Oil on canvas. 50 x 61 cms (20 x 24 inches)

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