Sunshine, birdsong and the voice of Agnes O’Bell. I’m sitting in the studio of Derek jones feeling a mixture of intrigue, excitement and apprehension.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing artist Derek Jones for a few years now. We have exhibited his work on several occasions, and he has become a firm favourite in Found. A figure painter based in the Scottish Borders, Derek works either in charcoal or a mix of pastel and acrylic.
Today I’m visiting him to sit for a portrait. It’s in preparation for an event we are holding in the gallery as part of the Dunbar Street Art Trail. Derek will be demonstrating his superb life drawing in the gallery, and I am his slightly unnerved subject! It seems I am not alone though, as Derek does not usually work with an audience - his participation, has been incentivized by machiato’s and flapjacks!
So I take my seat, and what begins is a relaxed conversation that travels through politics, local restaurants, price of framing, Scandinavian musicians and psychology. I’m intrigued by the relationship between an artist and his subject, and what makes a muse. For him, chemistry and the emotion conveyed from the model are paramount. He is particularly drawn to messages conveyed through the eyes and the lips. He tells me quirks are fascinating, and often the hook that results in him working with a particular model time and time again. My squinty nose should be fine then!
This morning, the mood is calm and Derek’s initial broad sweeping strokes become more contemplative. The energy around and between us changes. As we both drift off, I’m only vaguely aware I’m being observed. It’s a very calming and somewhat meditative experience. I loose all track of time… It’s very still. After what may have been an hour or two Derek signs the piece. This small but symbolic act signifies him finished. He won’t make any more adjustments as if the moment and drawing has been fixed in time.
He tells me later that like most of his pieces he likes to “make a mess, then get myself out of it”. It seems a very daring approach, but you only have to look around Derek’s studio to see its’ success. If his working approach is to journey his way out of chaos, then wow!
Looking around his works’ are engaging, alive and fresh. The room has an incredible energy as the eyes from so many portraits project out. It’s a fascinating insight into the man and his working.
Here are some snaps from my morning…
Derek is always looking for new models to work with and having sat for him I can thoroughly recommend the experience. Don't be put off if you're not a conventional stick thin model type, Derek likes working with real women with curves and the word "Rubenesque" was used when describing the sort of ideal model. Please contact him for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us know how you get on :-)