ART: Amazing portrait painter in… Chinnor!
One of the strange benefits of being a lifestyle journalist is that I have had my portrait painted and drawn several times over my, er, ‘illustrious’ career.
The first time was for a feature at the Indy on Sunday when a Russian princess living in Soho painted my nude portrait for a story on how commissioning self-portraiture was coming back into fashion. Yeah I know, you couldn’t make it up. My mum bought me the painting for my birthday and now unsuspecting guests have to look at my buttocks in the living room.
More recently I was contacted by Peregrine Heathcote, a massively successful painter who has moved from central London to Chinnor with his young family, and whose work romanticises the early twentieth century with its depiction of glamorous, sensual women, strong sexy men, and aristocratic adventure. His paintings sell for up to £25,000 (yup, you read that right) in the UK and US, and he’s painted masses of celebrities, royalty and aristcrats – most recently Julian Fellowes and lovely Cilla Black – BUT he also sells smaller scale works at much more affordable prices.
Anyway, it somehow transpired that I ended up in Peregrine’s glorious studio high in the Chinnor hills – I still don’t quite know how it happened if I’m honest – for a portrait sitting.
If you’re in the market for a portrait of sketch – and seriously why not, your grandchildren will thank you for it when you’re old and decrepid – let me tell you from the off that Peregrine is such a lovely guy, you’ll want to pose in front of him every day of the week (sorry Mr Muddy, that’s just how it is). He has a whole studio of props and fashion accessories but I ended up having pics taken in my leather jacket and scarf, partly because Peregrine liked the textures of my clothes and partly because *sob* I couldn’t get into half of the fashion props as they’re for the models he regularly employs.
It’s an unusual technique he uses, taking masses of digital photos until he gets the look he wants, and then copying that into his portraiture. He took literally hundreds of images of me from every conceivable angles.
Seriously, looking at the downloaded images on Peregrines enormous computer screen was not good for the ego. The Muddy double chin is well and truly flourishing – my double chin has grown its own doppelganger which is some kind of achievement – but the big plus of looking at photos is that you can choose the best one to copy for your portrait. THANK GOD! So we eventually settled on this one.
Two weeks later I had a call to collect the sketch on vintage-style sepia paper and this is what I received. I love it.
If you don’t know Peregrine’s more expensive portraiture, he focuses on a similar by-gone glamour as Jack Vettriano and in fact exhibited at Vettriano’s London Albemarle Gallery where, in the early Nineties, I almost bought a Vettriano sketch, and then didn’t. (I know. I KNOW!)
And again like Vettriano, Peregrine uses regular models to create a feeling of continuity within his works. But he also loves to record the process of his painting. Check out the brillaint video below that shows the models, Peregrine at work (love the bellboy costume!) and the end result.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a sketch or portrait, you are in very lucky territory if you’re in driving distance of Chinnor. We have a master in our midst.