Carol Ann Duffy
It was fantastic to hear Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy give poetry readings twice – once in a Worcester public house where she spoke from behind the bar pulling pints looking quite at home and once in a Malvern school where she was serenaded by a musical sidekick. And I loved her poems about committment created for the nation around the time of the Royal Wedding recently. I am pleased with how this illustration turned out. Beginning any new image is like an act of faith that something good will come out of the time, energy and focus invested and as Sir Winston Churchill said: all paintings are a battleground reaching a point where you think you are losing but reminding us to press on and win the battle. It was a challenge to paint her hair; I never use black but manage to mix a gorgeous rich dark colour from the darkest blue, the richest red and a hint of the richest yellow on my palette, only ever using the three basic primaries to create all the colours I need. I do however use a full range of brushes from the largest scruffiest cheapest mongrel brush picked up goodness only knows where (never throw brushes away – they’re all useful somewhere in a painting) to the itsiest finest detail brush, thereby creating a rich vocabulary of mark making to describe the textures and subtleties of both flesh and fabric.