London Art Spot: John Dolan

John and George

If you’re a Shoreditch regular, you’ll recognise John Dolan and his dog George. They’re out on the streets of London every day, John drawing, George keeping him company and watching the world go by. John’s been chronicling the changing cityscape of this area in his sketchpad for three years now and is a Londoner through and through.

As the Hackney Citizen points out, John’s had a bit of a rough past, in and out of Pentonville Prison over the years for petty crime and often homeless. His drawings have since been sold for as much as £15,000. He has recently collaborated with some of the biggest names in street art to produce a series of work for an exhibition at the Howard Griffin Gallery next month.

Below he tells us a bit about some of the artists he’s been working with, shares a story about George the dog and leaves us with a thought to carry through the rest of the day.

Shoreditch High Street (photo - Rob Weir)

LLO: Start by telling us a bit about yourself, your background and your interests.
JD: My name is John Dolan. I was born in Hackney Hospital on June 8th 1971. I grew up in Islington. I love art. I’m a big fan of Gilbert and George, Jackson Pollock, Robert Crumb, and I love Stik’s work. I’m a big music fan; I love Springsteen. I’m a big boxing fan. I’m a Gemini and I’m 42 years of age.

Thierry Noir & ROA collaboration with John Dolan

LLO: For the past few years, you’ve been hanging out around Shoreditch drawing this area of London. What do you hope to communicate through your work?
JD: Basically what I want to communicate through my work is London. I like the grimy look of London (in parts) and especially the street art you have in London, which is on the grimy parts.

Dolan x ROA 3

LLO: You’ve collaborated with some of the best street artists around for your exhibition at the Howard Griffin Gallery. Who are they? Who have you most enjoyed working with on this project? Why?
JD: For the collaborations I’ve done I’ve worked with more than 30 artists. ROA was the first one. Thierry Noir, RUN, Stik, Zomby, MadC (the best lady graffiti artist), BRK, Dscreet, Malarky; there’s loads to name. The best one for me, the most technical artist out of the lot of them is probably ROA, who I admire and respect hugely.

Dolan x ROA 2

LLO: Why should we stop in to check out your exhibition?
JD: Well some of the best street artists in the world have checked me out and got on board with this project. Surely that answers your question! The theme is Shoreditch, the regeneration of the city and the incredible street art that’s going on around here. There’s around 50 of my street pieces, of George and the buildings on Shoreditch High Street, and about 25 of the big pieces with collaborations by the street artists. Then there’s about 4 or 5 big originals of different buildings on the street and around the area.

John Dolan 2

LLO: Tell us a bit about your drawing technique.
JD: I use pilot pen, blind drawing. I take the pen straight to the paper; I rarely use pencil. I like the grimy looking and old buildings. I spend up to six weeks drawing the big pieces, and the small building drawings that I sell on the High Street take up to two hours.

Shoreditch High Street 1

LLO: We want to know more about George. How long have you had him? What’s his personality like? Tell us a little story about something he did that was memorable.
JD: I was living in temporary accommodation in the Tower Hill area, and at Christmas I always put homeless people up because of the cold weather conditions and because Christmas is a really depressing time of the year for them guys. I was putting up a couple one particular year and they already had a dog. These two guys were beggars, and whilst they were out on the street some mad Scotsman sold them George for the price of a strong can of lager. They then came to my house with George.  In the meantime they were offered a place in a hostel. They couldn’t take two dogs, so they offered me George, who I took on.

I’ve had George for six years. I’ve trained him to the max. I have arthritis in my ankle and in the winter I’m on crutches and I can’t walk. George is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, he’s got that fighting instinct and he can be a bit of a little git at times. So I’ve trained him to the extent that he listens to every command and obeys every word. I sit on Shoreditch High Street Friday and Saturday nights when people have got drink inside them. They can be quite abusive, and when people that are quite abusive come walking towards me I’ve only got to raise my hand and point towards them and George will start to bark at them. I don’t even have to give him a command, I just point in their direction and he’ll start to bark. That generally keeps the nutters away from me and the people that have had too much to drink.

George’s personality, well he’s a very wise dog; he’s got great wisdom in his eyes. He looks like he’s been around for longer than he actually has. Me and George are meant to be together, I can’t explain it but its kind of destiny that has brought us together. The dog has brought me incredibly good luck. He’s become a part of Shoreditch, everyone knows him. They know his name before they know my name. George is engrained on Shoreditch just as much as I am. George has become a legend in the past few years since I’ve been around Shoreditch. I love him to bits, and he’s my universe. What more can I say? 

ROA detail

LLO: As a born and bred Londoner, what changes have you seen in the city in general over the years?
JD: I’ve lived in London all my life. I grew up in Islington and saw the changes there. Years ago, Shoreditch used to have a very big Bangladeshi community. They’re moving out now as the area regenerates itself and becomes very middle class. I’m very working class, but the middle classes are bringing a great vibe to the area. It’s great round Shoreditch now, as opposed to twenty years ago.

John Dolan x Malarky

LLO: When you think of Shoreditch, what’s the first thing that comes to mind in each of the following categories:
The beauty of the people, the fashion, the street art and the street life.
Smell: The different restaurants with their excellent smells of food beaming out of them.
Taste: I like Dishoom and the Argentinian steak sandwiches across the road.
Texture: The texture for me is my big fat arse sat up on the hard concrete pavement of Shoreditch High Street.
Sound: The music wafting out of the clubs and the laughter and happiness of people enjoying their nights out.

Noir, Zomby, BRK, RUN

LLO: Tell us about one or two random but memorable interactions you’ve had while working on your drawings.
JD: There are two amazing things that happened to me on the street. One was being published in Shoreditch Unbound alongside Tracy Emin and Gilbert and George, the first two months of me sitting on Shoreditch High Street. I was sat there drawing one Saturday afternoon when two guys approached me and commissioned me for the book.

The other is when the rock band Heavens Basement bought a piece and took it onto Lauren Laverne’s Radio 1 show. I got a big shout out.

John Dolan with Stik

LLO: If you could leave Londoners with one thought to carry through the rest of the day, what would it be?
JD: Treat others how you expect to be treated yourselves, bastards!


You can see John’s work at the Howard Griffin Gallery from 19-26 September (10am-6pm), 189-190 Shoreditch High Street E1 6HU.

London Art Spot: Lis Watkins

The Great Croydon BakeOff-3392 photo for twitterPhoto by Nikolay Voronkov, @NVoronkov

Instead of using a camera, Lis explores London with a moleskine notebook and a pen. Sharing illustrations in a daily blog called Line and Wash she has created an ongoing storyboard of London life through this art form. Below, Lis talks about the day her blog became a reality, some of her favourite smells, sounds, tastes and textures in this city and a few tempting recommendations of food and drink that I’ll be adding to my long list of places to explore!

Awaiting delivery 1Awaiting delivery

LLO: If not London, where are you from originally, how long have you been in London and what brought you here? Give us a brief history of your artistic background.
LW: Originally from Brighton on the South Coast, I came to London to go to art college and ended up staying for work. I started my blog, a kind of daily drawing diary, originally as a personal challenge to get myself drawing more, wanting to return to work as a full-time illustrator after a period focusing on family life.  I knew I needed to brush up my artistic skills and regular drawing seemed like a good idea.

crystal palace food market 1 colourCrystal Palace food market

LLO: You’ve been keeping your sketch blog, Line and Wash, for about two years now. Tell us a bit about the blog, why you decided to set it up, what we’ll find there and what you hope to accomplish with your site.
LW: The catalyst for making the blog a reality rather than a dream was a reunion with old art college friends on a sunny Saturday afternoon outside the Royal Festival Hall on London’s Southbank.  Stepping back in time and being with lots of creative people again reignited my appetite for drawing, so my online sketchbook, ‘Line and Wash’ was born.  One of the surprises of making the blog is the interest I’ve had from other people and I’ve been bowled over by all the comments I’ve received.

Olympic rings at St PancrasOlympic rings at St Pancras

LLO: How often do you sketch? Is it a hobby or a full time pursuit?
LW: It really depends on how much illustration work I have on but I usually manage something every day. I see life now as a series of drawing opportunities!

shelf stacking at Alexandra NurseriesShelf stacking at Alexandra Nurseries

LLO: Give us a short introduction to your technique, the materials you prefer to work with and your method of approach to an idea.
LW: I carry a small sketchbook and fine liner pen around with me all the time in case I see a good subject to draw. Using a pen focuses my mind as to what marks to make. I also have a large Moleskine watercolour sketchbook and a set of pocket watercolours for larger drawings.  Lately, I’ve been experimenting with using water soluble pencils and a water brush as it’s easier to use these when there’s nowhere to sit.

Skateboarding at the south bankSkateboarding at the south bank

LLO: You’re heading out the door with your sketchbook. Do you usually have a set destination and subject in mind or do you prefer to wander? If the latter, how you you decide when you stop and sketch?
LW: Most of my sketches are of everyday life in my part of Southeast London and Croydon – travelling on public transport, shopping, family life, what’s happening in the back garden – but I do try to go out at least every couple of weeks to sketch special events or buildings in London.  It doesn’t always work out as planned though – I went to draw in Soho at the time of the Chinese New Year, but couldn’t find anywhere to perch to make a drawing but then stumbled upon the preparations for the BAFTAs outside the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

getting ready for the BAFTASGetting ready for the BAFTAs

LLO: As an artist you’re obviously inspired visually by London, but what is it about the city that most appeals to you in each of the following categories:
As well as sketching in London I’ve also sketched in Paris but when funds don’t allow for that, it’s always nice to go and draw at St. Pancras station, watching all the travellers and listening to the French announcements on the tannoy and pretend I could be waiting for the next Eurostar!

Smell: A visit to Kew Gardens is always a great treat for all the senses, with all its fabulous fragrant plants and flowers.

Touch: I spent several weekends sketching the Sydenham Arts Festival, where it was great to visit lots of places on the Artists Trail, getting the chance to see and touch lots of beautiful hand crafted pieces of jewellery and ceramics.

Taste: The Crystal Palace Food Market is a great place to shop with lots of interesting stalls selling tasty fresh food and also Alexandra Nurseries in Penge is a gem of a garden centre with a café serving delicious tea and cake in vintage china.

Sydenham Community LibrarySydenham Community Library

LLO: Which image, project or moment of your artistic career are you most proud of so far and why?
LW: I was one of the many people hanging around St. Mary’s Hospital when the Duchess of Cambridge was due to give birth in July. It was a great thrill when one of my sketches from the day was used by Urban Sketchers founder Gabriel Campanario on his ‘The Week in Sketches’ website.  As well as posting on the blog, I ‘tweet’ my drawings daily and had a great moment when the author of ‘The Little Paris Kitchen,’ Rachel Khoo, saw some sketches I had made while queuing at one of her book signings and gave me a big plug by sharing them on her Facebook page.

the queue for KhooThe queue for Khoo

LLO: What are you working on now? Any big projects or shows coming up? Any news to share?
LW: I’m going to be exhibiting with ‘SE20 Art’ at their 8th Annual Exhibition at the end of this month,  and am hoping to set up an online shop selling prints of my sketchbook drawings as well as having a stall with some other local artists in Penge Market in September.

tools of the tradeTools of the trade

LLO: Give us your best London food and drink recommendations.
LW: There’s a lovely little café and chocolate shop called ‘Mélange’ at 184 Bellenden Road, Peckham and great ice cream at Chin Chin Labs at Camden Market, 49 – 50 Camden Lock Place.

Tower BridgeTower Bridge

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery?
LW: One of the things about doing my blog is that I’m always discovering bits of London I’ve never visited before and it was only a few weeks ago that I finally got to the beautiful area of Little Venice.  Sketching has made me look at London afresh and  I’ve fallen back in love with the place and I feel as enthusiastic as I did when I got my first A-Z many years ago.

Thanks Lis!

Find Lis on Twitter and Line and Wash.

London Art Spot: Good Wives and Warriors

Good Wives and Warriors are Becky Bolton & Louise Chappell

It’s not often you find an artistic collaboration as seemless as this. Take any part of one of the Good Wives and Warriors’ giant wall paintings and it’s likely that even they wouldn’t be able to tell you which one of them painted that section.

They’ve had creative adventures all over the globe from a painting tour of South America, to Australia, to the States and around Europe sharing their talent with the rest of the world. Their colourful designs have been picked up by the likes of MTV, Adidas, Urban Outfitters and Swatch as well as a few design magazines and books. There will certainly be more of that in their future.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Becky and Louisa tell us where the name Good Wives and Warriors comes from, share stories of their South America adventures and talk about where they’re jetting off to next.

LLO: Where does the name Good Wives and Warriors come from and how has your partnership developed since university?
B&L: The name Good Wives and Warriors comes from the etymology of our names. The name Rebecca is Hebrew in origin and means ‘to bind’ and that suggests being a good and faithful wife. Louise comes from the French ‘Louis’ meaning famous warrior and renowned fighter. So together we are ‘Good Wives and Warriors’. It in no way represents our personalities but we liked the sound of it so it stuck!

LLO: Which aspects of London life influence your creativity?
B&L: It has to be the other creative, talented and motivated people that we are surrounded by in London. We share a studio with Nelly Ben Hayoun and Olivia Decaris, two energetic and talented French designers and next-door are Felix de Pass, Alex Hume and Giles Miller who are constant sources of support and inspiration. Also the wealth of exhibitions and opportunities in London make such a difference.

LLO: You’re known for your large-scale wall paintings. What’s the biggest you’ve done so far and where was it?
B&L: I think this has to be the painting we did in Clerkenwell with Space In Between Gallery. The exhibition was called ‘Buckminsterfullerene Dream’ and we spent 11 days on this painting, which is by far the longest we’ve spent on a single wall painting. We also painted the columns and part of the floor.

LLO: If you could choose any wall in London to redecorate, where would you bring the paintbrushes and what would you create?
B&L: The entire outside of the Tate Modern would be pretty good! A big sprawling mass of wonder.

LLO: Which piece of work or professional moment have you been most proud of so far?
B&L: I think we both feel pretty proud of ourselves when we’re in a book! There is something about being in print that really validates what you do. Also, the first exhibition we curated in Glasgow called the Sprezzatura Maze, because we were responsible for every aspect of the exhibition from selecting the artists, building the walls and playing hosts to the French artists that came to stay with us. It was such hard work but really worth it.

LLO: Past clients include Adidas, Urban Outfitters, Swatch, MTV and loads more. Do you have a dream client or project?
B&L: We’ve always wanted to do book covers, so maybe vintage or Penguin, we’d like to do a honey label and the set design for a big theatre production.

LLO: Tell us about your painting tour of South America – challenges, best moments, etc.
B&L: We had an incredible time in South America, but there were lots of challenges! It was really hard to pinpeople down with dates for exhibitions. We’d been emailing for months before but still had no definite plans when we arrived so had to try and make it all happen.

The first painting we did in Cusco, Peru, involved going round with a translated speech about ourselves, and asking if we could paint on people’s walls. Obviously there were lots of Incan walls that we couldn’t paint on, and we had many rejections, but finally a lovely man let us loose on his wall and kept giving us Inca Cola (which is luminous green) and key rings! His kids and the stray dogs hung around us as we were painting and we had lots of attention from passersby. (Most of which we didn’t understand!)

One of the paintings we did in Buenos Aires was throughout the night, starting at 10 and finishing at 7 in the morning. We were exhausted and I (Becky) ended up fainting in MacDonald’s which was really embarrassing as everyone just stepped over me thinking I was a drunk! This painting was a ‘Cock-Rocket’ so it got quite a lot of attention too, which was funny.

LLO: What’s a typical creative day like for the two of you?
B&L: We share a studio with designers in Shoreditch so most days are spent working away there unless we’re doing a wall painting somewhere and then that means long hours of painting in situ. When we’re doing commercial work we’ll be in the studio but doing exhibitions and wall paintings means we get out and about a lot.

We were just involved in an exhibition called ‘Super K Sonic Boooum’ by Nelly Ben-Hayoun at the Manchester Science Festival which involved us making a geodesic dome out of 75 pieces of cardboard, trying to paint and construct it in our studio (which is pretty small) and then attempting to take the whole thing in pieces to Manchester on the train. It was a nightmare and it kept collapsing! We finally managed to make it stay up so people could go inside but it was such a mission. Our brains work much better in 2-D than in 3-D! So we always have periods of exhibition stuff, which is way more fun than being attached to our desks.

LLO: Favourite London-based artists?
B&L: We love Raqib Shaw for his incredibly intricate and sumptuous paintings. To be honest, most of the artists we like don’t live in London!

LLO: What are you working on now?
B&L: We’re going to do an exhibition in Mexico City in 3 weeks time so we’re doing a new set of drawings to take over, so they are taking up most of our time at the moment. They are quite labour intensive. We’re also waiting to hear back from a couple of commercial jobs to see if we’ve got them.

Thanks Becky and Louise!

For more from Becky and Louise, check out their colourful website.

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

London Art Spot: Martin Hoare

Some people love to capture London on film, others in photographs, a few just in memory. Welsh illustrator Martin Hoare takes his sketch book out to the streets. Later, some of these sketches are transformed into more elaborate drawings or paintings. For a while, his pens & pencils sat in a drawer while he concentrated on his day job as a graphic designer, but now he’s set up a blog to revive them. It’s called Martin’s Doodles. If you enjoy his unique catalogue of London life below, pop over and have a look.

For this week’s London Art Spot, Martin tells us a story of frustration as a prospective art student, talks through the process of creating a new piece of work and about the satisfaction he’s recently discovered in a completely unrelated hobby that fills his spare time.

Piccadilly Line

LLO: How does living in London influence your creativity?
London is an amazing place to live and work. I’ve lived here now for 12 years and there are still always new places to discover. I love the way that each area has its own unique feel, the way you can travel just a short distance and feel like you’ve gone somewhere completely different. It’s always been drawing people and the way the people of London interact with each other and the urban environment. That’s what really interests me. Someone once said: “There’s 8 million stories all playing out at the same time.”  That’s what I’m trying to capture.

Green Park

LLO: Graphic designer by trade, and here you are with a blog full of “doodles”, of sketches and drawings. What’s your artistic background?
I have always been a compulsive drawer. As a kid, I don’t think I was happy unless I had a pencil and a stack of paper. I left school at sixteen and took a training scheme at the local Ford Motor plant. I think it soon became apparent that I had no interest in producing axles and, fair dues to them, they set me up with an interview at the local art college. But without formal qualifications, they weren’t interested in taking me on, and at the end of the interview they showed me a perfectly airbrushed illustration of a motorbike and told me not to come back until I could produce work of that standard. This really discouraged me from perusing any kind of career in art. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the illustration was from a student’s final degree show.

I did a fanzine for a bit around this time, designed a few record sleeves, t-shirts and gig posters for local bands. Then when the need to get a proper job came along, I became a painter and decorator. So I was working as a painter, but just the wrong type. I still kept on drawing but didn’t think of doing anything with it until I started taking a life drawing class. There were a lot of art students there from the college that had turned me down a few years back and I was surprised to find that I was drawing at a better level than practically all of them. So I thought, what the hell, gave up my job and started a foundation course. I intended to go on to study fine art or illustration, but having discovered the wonders of what could be done on a Mac, did a degree in Graphic Design and have been sitting in front of a screen ever since. The down-side of this being that for a long time I put down my pencils and brushes and it has taken me quite a while to pick them back up again.

Brewer Street

LLO: Where did the initiative to start “Martin’s Doodles” come from and what do you hope to achieve by keeping the blog?
I had drawings all over the place, in numerous sketchbooks, on bits of paper, and it was hard to keep track of everything. I really needed to get everything scanned in, just to pull everything together. So the main reasons for setting up the blog were getting organised, getting my work out there and moving it forward. After all, what’s the point of producing a load of artwork if it’s just going to sit in a drawer in the spare room?

LLO: Best place in London to shop for art supplies?
Cass Art in Islington. I spend a lot more there than I need to, I have a thing for buying new sketch books, whether I need a new one or not. I also visit the London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden quite a bit.

North Lanes

LLO: Favourite place in London to sit with a sketch pad?
Probably somewhere on the South Bank, especially when the sun is out. There’s usually a chilled atmosphere and noone is in a rush to get anywhere, which is helpful when sketching.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of so far and why?
It’s usually what I’ve just finished or am working on at that time. I’ve just finished a painting ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, which is Soho street scene. The thing that started me off on this image was the signage, which I just had to work into a painting. And being Soho it just had to be a night scene.

Leaving Las Vegas

LLO: Describe the process of how your artwork comes to life from the moment you conceive an idea to the finished product.
I’ll spend a lot of time wandering around just looking for somewhere that will work as a drawing or painting. I’ve basically always got an eye on the next piece of work. Once I’ve chosen a location I’ll do a few rough sketches and take as many pictures as I can. I’ll then put all these together in Photoshop, and usually work up a composite image, putting all the elements together. Print this out and make a rough pencil drawing sketch placing all the main elements on the page. Once that’s done I’ll start working up the drawing, with either a fine liner, or ink and pen. Once I’m happy the drawing is done, I’ll either add shading with marker pens, or I might scan the drawing and colour it in Photoshop.

The next stage is to determine which drawings may have the potential to be worked up as paintings. The whole painting process is a lot more involved and time consuming. Unlike drawing where the work can be finished in one sitting, a painting can be very much a stop-start affair, gradually taking shape, depending on the free time I have available. But it’s really rewarding when you finish with something that you’re pleased with.

Oceanic Leather Wear

LLO: What do you get up to when you’re not drawing/doodling/sketching/painting?
Aside from work which takes up a large part of my time, I have recently started gardening. For the first time since moving to London I have a garden, and have really gotten into growing my own vegetables; there’s something really pleasing about eating food you’ve grown yourself. I tend to go to a lot of galleries. One of the great things about London is that there is just so much art going on; wherever I happen to be, I can usually take a bit of time to check out whatever galleries are around. Being Welsh, I also often end up in the pub watching a bit of rugby.

LLO: Is there a place in the capital you’d love to sit for a day with a sketch pad but haven’t had the chance yet?
MH: Actually having the luxury of a day to sit sketching is not something I’m used to. Maybe it’s being a Graphic Designer, where everything is driven by deadlines, but there never seems to be enough time to fit everything in. I’ve never done any drawings on the tube; maybe I could sit on the Circle Line going round and round drawing people. Perhaps I should try that.

Smoking Man

LLO: Any impressive up-and-coming London-based artists we should keep our eyes on?
Print Club in Dalston (, has some really good illustrators and artists. I like a lot of the work they produce.

Sundae, Sundae

Thanks Martin! 

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Country Living Spring Fair: Eli Ofir

I’ve been given a cool opportunity to contact a few people involved with this year’s Country Living Spring Fair, happening in Islington from March 24-28. Come back for more later this week.

This is the talented Eli Ofir, who creates portraits of houses in ink, pen and pencil. He’s taken a few minutes to tell us about what to expect from his work on show at the fair, show us a few samples and talk about a gentleman who mentored him for 20 years and still influences his work today.

LLO: Tell us a bit about your work and your contribution to the Country Living Spring Fair.
EO: I create hand-drawn, black & white, detailed portraits of town and country houses, done in pen, ink and soft pencils.

I become very emotional and excited when I draw a beautiful house. The fine detail of the pen work takes me on a magical journey where the history of the house is revealed with every brick and stone that becomes immortalised. The uneven lines of the roof, walls and beams just deepen this mystery. This is why I slightly enhance these elements to bring out the warmth and personality of the house. This ‘gentle twist to perspective’ is unique to my style and artistic signature. It transforms a house into a piece of art that tells an ancient story. Most properties do not need anything more than the slightest twist, as they are uneven anyway. One thing is certain though, my work is never a Blueprint of a house…that is something an architect would do.

My passion for magnificent houses grows by the day. This is why, whenever possible, I visit the house myself to take photos and get a feel for its personality. I love to meet the owners and hear their stories about the house and its history. When a house is too far away for a visit I ask the owners to take lots of photos from as many angles as possible. This gives me a good feel for their house and, just as importantly, the way they feel about it.

Some houses are not that old or they are even newly built, but they tend to use old styles of a specific era of English architecture. Those houses are interesting and beautiful on their own and I like to investigate what styles have influenced their planners. The majority of properties I work with have lots of interesting angles so many clients commission two or more elevations. Sometimes I draw three, four or even five portraits of the same house. I scan these onto a CD so that, as well as having an original work of art, owners can also print off letterheads, greeting cards, placemats or any other stationary prints they desire. 

LLO: You were trained by a Russian painter by the name of Meir Appelboim. How does his influence continue to be seen in your work today?  
EO: I was greatly inspired by Meir Apelboum, an elderly Russian artist whom I befriended whilst volunteering on a community program at school. He became a grandfather figure to me for over 20 years, until he passed away in 1999. He taught me a huge amount; in particular, a strong awareness for perspective and detail without impinging upon my openness of mind and spirit.

In every portrait I do today, there is a part of Meir there. His soul, his good eyes and smile are embedded in my work. (Thank you Meir…!)

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of any why?
I love all my portraits and some times have a difficulty letting go of them, as if they are my babies. One of the portraits I love is ‘The Old Cottage’ in West Sussex. It just has all the beautiful elements of an old country house. Its proportions and composition is close to perfect in my eyes and I keep a copy of it hanging on the wall in my studio.

For more of Eli’s work, see his website:
For more information on what to expect the Country Living Spring Fair, click here and watch this space.

Also, if you’re interested in checking out the fair, Little London Observationist readers have been offered a special ticket price of £10.50 (instead of £15 at the door). Just ring up the ticket line no later than 1pm the day before heading down and quote “CL134”. 

Tel: 08448480160