I painted this view of the Blue drawing room at Chatsworth sometime in about 2000. I hadn’t painted a view in this way before. I had perhaps done a couple of paintings that had a room in them but this was a painting with the room as its subject, a portrait of sorts of the room and by extension, the owners. I soon realised that it also held many other possibilities, groupings of Stll Lifes and then portraits of people in situ as in a conversation piece and as was the case in this Blue Drawing Room painting; the chance to copy works by great artists. There are five Lucian Freuds to be seen here.
Artists careers are often founded on the principle of one thing leading to another and so this painting led me to do three paintings of Clarence House and then to more interiors of a number of other beautiful houses.
The paintings are nor that big, perhaps about 15×18 inches or so but they take one or two months to complete. I often sit to paint them from a platform so that I can look slightly more into the room
An example of my setup of platform, easel, stool and table.
Many English Drawing rooms are laid out with a seating area forming a U shape with the fireplace at the open end. Any view into this area gets blocked off by the backs of chairs so I often like to get a bit higher and see into the seating area, the place where all the action is.
It can take me a while to settle on a composition which I feel embodies the most important aspects of any particular room but generally I favour having the fireplace on view as this is usually a focal point in a room. Sometimes there is a part of the room that doesn’t make the cut and that is hard thing to face up to. My interiors tend to give a very wide field of view, perhaps 110 to 120 degrees. This is just about the full angle visible by a pair of eyes excluding the hazier periferal vision but achieving this envolves some adjustment of the perspective. Something important that is further away can come out very small in a painting and the perspective can become a bit fish eyed. I try to equal these things out but also try to keep the view true to life. My aim is to find a composition that gives a real feeling like being in the place. It is hard to know how great a liberty to take in organising the picture plane but certainly the mind has a great deal of influence on how we percieve what we see and a straight perspective drawing is never quite enough.