I am fascinated by figures, alone or in groups, how the light falls on them and the spaces around them. The people I paint are not doing anything extraordinary, they are simply “being” or interacting – lost in their own thoughts, going about their business or gossiping with friends. I am essentially painting a glimpse or snapshot of everyday happenings. These are real situations; vignettes of ordinary life and I am there with my sketchbook as an observer and reporter, capturing the moment, which I will later interpret and develop.
In using strong light and shade on and surrounding these figures I try to achieve a dramatic mood and atmosphere. Sometimes I realise halfway through a painting that the figures are almost incidental to the composition – the crucial element is the strong lighting that creates a sense of drama in even the most ordinary, everyday scene. I am particularly drawn to the use of strong horizontal lines – for instance, a long bar with waiters or the skyline in a seascape with figures in the foreground. These are real situations; vignettes of ordinary life and I am therewith my sketchbook as an observer and reporter, capturing the moment, which I will later interpret and develop.
My technique as a painter involves layering and weaving many colours to bring life into my figures and spaces. I want to feel the air and see movement in my paintings and I avoid solid blocks of colour. I work in oils using rough canvasses, which helps to create the diffused, airy quality that I strive to achieve.
Lucy Dickens, great, great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, began her career as a full-time artist in 1990. Having previously worked as a successful fashion stylist for Condé Naste, she became a freelance illustrator, working for publications including The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Vogue, Brides, Harpers and Queen and Tatler.
She began to paint while writing and illustrating a series of children’s books, which were successfully published in London and New York.