Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Local portrait artist James Allen is just one of an exciting new generation of artists in Brockley. He grew up in the area, but moved to Cardiff to study for a degree in fine art. He's now back here, building his portfolio.




James kindly agreed to answer a few questions for Brockley Central ...

You participated in Brockley Open Studios this year, what did you think of the experience?

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that came to see my work, the positive response and that so many local people are interested enough in art to support the Brockley Open Studios.


You have family connections in Brockley; did you grow up here? Are you still based here?

Yes I have always lived in Brockley. After leaving university in Cardiff I returned to Brockley.


What first interested you in art as a career, and what training and experience have you had?

I've always drawn since I could hold a pencil and after I completed my fine art degree in Cardiff, I knew that painting was the one thing I wanted to do. Towards the end of my time at Cardiff, I became more and more interested in painting people. I won the Harry Holland prize for best figurative artist. I began to get commissions for portraits which I found I really enjoyed.


Brockley has a reputation for its artistic community, was this a factor in you developing into an artist?

No, I wasn't really aware that there was such a thriving artistic community until the Open Studios event.


How would you describe your work's style and themes, and what are your inspirations?

I don't think of my work being in any particular style, but I am heavily influenced by Velazquez and John Singer Sargent, so I like to employ the same techniques as they used. The themes are mainly portraits, modern images in a classical setting. On a recent trip to California though, I began painting landscapes.


Will you be participating in Open Studios next year, and do you have any other local exhibitions or events planned?

Definitely, it's proved to be one of the most useful outlets for showing my work yet. I don't have any exhibitions planned very locally, but the last couple of years I've had paintings accepted for display by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Discerning Eye exhibition, both held at the Mall Gallery so I'll continue to submit for those exhibitions. I have a solo exhibition planned at the SaLon Gallery in Westbourne Grove early next year.


Anyone interested in commissioning James can contact him via his website.
Many thanks to James for permission to use some of his works in this post.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cardiff? Where's that? Is there a tube stop?

Brockley Nick said...

Great article Kate, thanks!

I like his work a lot.

Pete said...

Excellent protraits, definitely up there with many of the paintings at the BP portrait awards this year.

Also an interesting article, well done Kate.

Hugh said...

Someone in this arty neighbourhood is genuinely talented!

Anonymous said...

This is a great article, hope to see more like it!

Anonymous said...

Your right Hugh,thought It was all squiggles and spoldges around here.

quick brown fox said...

Really glad to see this thread. Brockley has such a rich artistic community (NOT just producing squiggles and splodges!!) and it's great to see it celebrated on this blog.

I agree James's portraits are up there with the BP ones at the NPG - I missed them at the Open Studios so it's great to get a chance to see them here.

Maybe you could do a thread like this as a regular feature, say, once a month?

Aoife said...

I agree It would be great to do a feature on an artist each month. Very relevant and reflective of what is happening and the people in the area.

Richard said...

Great portraits!

Anonymous said...

I know a regular poster here who has commissioned James. Am considering commissioning him too following Open Studios but need to get my act together and contact him. This has reminded me to do so.

Tressillian James said...

Yeah we commissioned James after seeing his work at the Open Studios. I'd been looking for a portrait artist for a while (not to paint my picture!) and seeing the influence of Sargent - and also Klimt - in the work was really exciting.

If anyone is thinking of commissioning James, I'd recommend you to go ahead. You won't regret it. It's great, working out with the James how the image will look, and being part of the creative process.

John Ex-Moonbow said...

I loved an painting in your hallway James, but cannot remember who it was of?

Tressillian James said...

John - was it of a guy with dark hair in a grey cardigan, sideways holding a book? It's an excellent painting and is called Joe F and is on James' website

John Ex-Moonbow said...

Another great Brockley artist, pianist Julian Jacobson is on Radio 3 now (10pm Wed) and for the next seven days on i-player http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/radio3/

Headhunter said...

I was impressed with his portraits. He also had a small painting of a small jug of flowers which I loved.... Might check if he's still got it...

Brockley Kate said...

HH, on the Open Studios weekend there were some postcard prints of that jug of flowers painting. I've got one on my fridge!

Headhunter said...

...It's still on his website, perhaps I should blow some cash on the original...

Tressillian James said...

Ah you are not the only one HH - I tried to buy the flowers on the day I visited (I think it was around £120) - it was a great work. It turned out that quite a few people wanted it, and of course it was sold to the first buyer. James said he may do some more in future. I suppose it is still on the website because James would hold copyright to all his works, even when sold.

Tamsin said...

I see what you mean - I love the gleam of the gilding on the old fashioned porcelain. Perhaps he would do giclee prints of it to order? What Leo Stevenson did for me when I wanted one of his pictures of the Orkneys but baulked at the cost and size of the original. (Picking it up from the framer next Thursday...)

Headhunter said...

Oh, so it's sold. I thought it couldn't have still been around, it was very finely executed. I woulda lobbed 120 sheets at it...

Anonymous said...

Maybe the council could commission him to do some stencils for the pavements?

Brockley Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gowshika said...

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