Shane Sidlow

Born in Manchester, I have lived most of my life in the beautiful Lake District (Cumbria).

I studied ceramics at art college in Carlisle, and then, after a varied career centered mainly around Graphic Design, I.T. and computer networks, I decided to begin painting professionally.

large portraits
Finished artworks before they went to Germany

The camera, especially in this digital age, is the perfect way to obtain an accurate picture of someone, and I don’t want to try to emulate that. I use a camera to capture fleeting expressions during a conversation, I’ll chat with someone and, whilst doing so, just snap away. From these varied images I then choose the one I think best portrays that person’s ‘essence’ and, from that, I will begin to paint.

My preferred subject matter has always been people. I want to get some energy into the paintings, so sometimes I might leave some of the canvas showing through or emphasise the hues in the picture. I’m not trying for a perfect reproduction. I might only give an indication of the surrounding or clothing of the subject.

To me the prime focus is the face, the expression and the play of colour/shadow which creates the character of the person being painted.

I paint in oils, using brushes, palette knives, or a combination of the two.

Oil is the medium I use for all my work. I have tried acrylics, which have certain advantages, but found I didn’t enjoy the process as much.

Oils can be challenging, due to the nature of the paints and how different hues and mixtures dry differently or have different opacity. However this, for me, is part of the pleasure of painting. It’s always different depending on the subject, lighting and size of commission.

My recent work has been larger and I discovered that there are benefits to working big (this was a request for two black and white portraits, the first time I have not used colour). One of these is the impact of the paintings, another is the fact that I have to work ‘looser’ initially to get coverage on the canvas (this stops me from getting too fixated on the detail and allows me to make progress early on).

I usually try to bring some vibrancy to my subject so don’t attempt a purely photographic representation. Instead I attempt to use colour to create a more dynamic representation of what I see.

Painting portraits is not something I considered when I was younger. Now I find painting faces is what I enjoy doing the most. I think it’s the challenge of capturing the right mood. The slightest change in muscle tension can alter the expression, which I believe is from our thousands of years of ‘reading’ faces to enhance our survival!

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with digital drawing and am now creating some greetings cards.

The proofing process:

They are all available on my Etsy shop (click here to view them)



Video of portrait progression