Wednesday, December 06, 2023


I started painting a portrait of Richard Price on the 5th of November and it is now finished. He sat for me a couple of times then I took some photos so I could continue working. Painting and drawing from life is to me the most challenging and adventurous of creative experiences and when the subject is a real live human in front of me it also becomes quite frightening but in a thrilling way, like walking a tightrope without a net below. No matter how much I've learned about drawing or how instinctively I may respond to light and shape and character, the truth is that painting a portrait is floating and fishing in the vast unknown. Capturing a specific human being with paint. If you think I'm making a mystery out of an arty molehill, you're right. But I'm not speaking for other artists.

It was a real pleasure to paint Richard and I'm happy with the portrait. He is too but has not yet seen the fully finished work. Richard Price is the Head of Contemporary Collections at the British Library. He is also a fully functioning working poet - his most recent book, Late Gifts, has just been published by Carcanet. He is also a tutor at the Poetry School, London. And he sings.

By the way, the background on the left is a slice of bookshelves in my living room and on the right a slice of the large potted plant which was behind Richard's head. I hadn't planned this backdrop, it just happened and seemed right.

Natalie d'Arbeloff. Portrait of Richard Price, November 2023. Oil on canvas. 49cms X 40cms