Thursday, 26 January 2017

BP Portrait Award 2017 - Greg Mason - Waiting for the Call

Greg Mason Portrait of Victoria Lucie

Victoria Lucie by Greg Mason

This large canvas is my official entry for this years BP Portrait Awards - held at the National Portrait Gallery each year in London. My subject is Victoria Lucie, a young actress - who recently starred in Dartmoor Killing - an award winning independent movie shot on location in Devon.
This painting began with a session in my studio on the edge of Dartmoor a couple of years ago. The plain interior and simple accessories are typical of my pared-back approach. I like to put the subject as hero so that we experience the 'presence' of the sitter and are invited to share their moment. 
Greg Mason Portrait of Victoria Lucie
I particularly like the off-stage gaze - it allows us to create our own narrative. Is she 'waiting for the call' I asked myself as the painting developed, as an actress on audition would be. This fits with what I see - but each interpretation is valid.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Painting Eileen Ellis RDI (Royal Designer) for the Royal Portrait Society Award 2017

Greg Mason Painting Eileen Ellis RDI (Royal Designer) for the Royal Portrait Society Award 2017

This is a special painting for the RP (Royal Portrait Society) competition this year. The subject is my mother-in-law Eileen Ellis RDI - a magnificent lady, now in her 80s, who spent her life designing textiles. Most of us at some point in our lives will have sat upon or walked on her work - in tube trains, aeroplanes and airports throughout the world. Achieving success was never the main driver for her and many generations of students at the Royal College of Art will testify to her imense generosity and infinite knowledge of her subject.
Recognised in the 1980s as one of the most influential designers in her field, she too her place at the RSA alongside such giants as Terance Conran, Peter Blake, Brian Eno and Norman Foster.
In our family, we know her simply as Eileen - mother, grandmother, great grandmother and wife to Julian, provider of tea and wonderful cook. Here she is placed in a room that we are all familiar with, surrounded by objects and furniture that we have all used and in a pose that sums up how we see her in the everyday.
Below is a little movie of the early stages of the painting in progress. Fingers crossed, it will be in the Mall Galleries later in the year.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2017 - Greg Mason Entry

Greg Mason Self Portrait for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017
Greg Mason Self Portrait for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2017

I have always loved watching Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year - even from the first series when Nick Lord won the commission to paint Hilary Mantel I was enthralled by watching the process of different artists as they struggled to capture the essence of their sitters. Condensing the process into a four hour window seemed to bring an immediacy and excitement that made for great viewing. The reaction of sitter and judges - the arguments and disagreements - the elation and disappointment, it was all there.
When Christian Hook won in 2014 - he took the format to a new level - painting a magnificent portrait of Alan Cumming in New York. It was while watching this series that I decided to put in for the show this year.
The entry criteria was a self portrait - something I've never done before. So, for me, the question would be... how do I see myself and what do I want to say about myself in paint. I knew I didn't want it to be twee or self-indulgent - it needed to be edgy and authentic - and I began with a series of photographs taken using a large mirror in my studio.
Editing these down was a process I'm well used to - having spent 20 years as an art director and designer in the fashion industry. I've worked with some of the worlds top photographers and stylist and I always look for the image that's not quite 'right'  a bit 'odd' - it makes for a creative tension that pushes the viewer to notice.
The photograph I finally chose had just this kind of edge - I was looking away and there was lots of blank space beside me - it seemed to sum up the way I feel when I paint, it's just me there on my own, with my thoughts, my demons, my paint splattered shirt, my furrowed brow.
The following images show the stages of painting - I use a very limited palette of just 3 colours (plus white) - this gives me everything I need to achieve rich skin tones and a range of neutrals.
Here you can see the underpainting in monochrome followed by the colour layer and further refinement. I'm really please with the result - hopefully the judges will like it and I'll get an invite to be on the show. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Raddon Hill Blue Sky Painting

Greg Mason Landscape Paintings in devon

Raddon Hill is a spectacular vantage point from which you can see Exmoor and Dartmoor at the same time. These clouds passed over the hill beside my little farm, casting shadow over the patchwork of fields. This painting has taken over a year to complete and now stands as my most colourful landscape to date.

This painting is now sold ;-)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Blue Sky over Thailand Seafront

Greg Mason paints thailand skies

This is the latest in the blue sky series. Clouds form over the reef and the sea roughens with the evening winds so typical of that area. The blues of the Indian Ocean are unmistakable and challenge the palette. I reworked the sky having painted the clouds and now the whole painting is a united form with strong brush stroke and texture running through it.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Blue Sky Reef Break

Greg Mason painting of big clouds in Mexico

Blue Sky Reef Break

Where blue sky meets blue water - clouds gather as the afternoon in Thailand draws to a close.

Blue Sky Paintings

Sunset over Thailand seascape by Greg Mason

Landscapes and seascapes continue to provide inspiration for my work. This current collection is on the theme of Blue Skies... a metaphor for finding love and happiness. Paintings will be added to this page over the next few weeks as they are completed.