Artists I have ‘discovered’ at college

I was thinking today, randomly, about the good and great artists I have been ‘introduced’ to during tutorials at college. I think they deserve a blog entry to themselves as I owe them a debt for the inspiration they have provided me with (I’m sure they’d be much flattered). There are many more than just these three but these are the three who stick in my mind the most.

John Virtue

Early on in the course, while thinking about contrast and colour (or lack thereof), I came across John Virtue and his amazing black-and-white paintings of London. John Virtue is a landscape painter first and foremost, who’s work is somewhere between real and abstract. his style straddles oriental brush-painting and abstract expressionism. They relate closely to the likes of Turner and Constable, whom he admires enormously. Later on in the year when we talked about the sublime, I thought of John Virtue. One thing he said that stuck with me is how important it is to realise when you have to stop, when the painting is complete. I admire anyone who can paint without colour yet create a strong sense of the sublime.

Colour is an 'unnecessary distraction' (Rupert Wright, The Times, 19 May 2007)

Colour is an ‘unnecessary distraction’ (Rupert Wright, The Times, 19 May 2007)

 Lisa Milroy

Lisa Milory’s paintings were introduced to me as I began the Near and Far project as her style and subject matter is similar to mine. I am fascinated with her large canvases of collections of seemingly ordinary objects, such as shoes or records. I admire her technical skill but also the sense of ‘memory’ in her paintings (I learnt on research about Lisa Milroy that she didn’t generally paint from life but often from memory). I copied a painting of hers as part of my project. I came across the notion of grounding by studying Lisa Milroy. Previously I had always painted on white. Now I consider the background colour with all of my paintings. In addition to her ‘still lifes’ or ‘collections’ of objects I am attracted to her street scenes, especially those of Japan as I lived there for two years. To me they oozed Japan. I can almost smell the soya sauce or the tatami when I look at them.

The painting I copied

The painting I copied


I am in that room, I can smell the tatami

I am in that room, I can smell the tatami

Ben McLaughlin

The next artist I discovered who had an emotional impact on me was Ben McLaughlin who’s work matched my sense of the obscure and humour, as he states: ‘Being an artist is totally self-indulgent, but somebody has to do it’. First and foremost I love his paintings. They are simple, yet they have a huge impact and presence. He is another artist who paints the ordinary, everyday. His pictures evoke a feeling of the captured moment. His use of light and tone adds to the atmosphere of each scene. However, perhaps most interesting fact about Ben McLuaghlin is how he titles his pictures. He chooses snippets of everyday life, pieces from his thoughts or the radio, or overheard conversation. I’ve always struggled with titling paintings so to me this is pure genius. His paintings capture a moment and the titles do too. You can almost ‘hear’ the radio in the background.

'The British Born Wife of Syria's President Bashar Assad Has Been Banned From Traveling to European Union Countries by the Parliament in Brussels 2012'

‘The British Born Wife of Syria’s President Bashar Assad Has Been Banned From Traveling to European Union Countries by the Parliament in Brussels 2012’

I hope one day someone writes about me in their blog.


John Virtue at the National Gallery, [last accessed 21 April 2014]

Hamilton, J., (2006) The Paintings of Ben McLaughlin, Merrell, London

Lisa Milroy on Wikipedia, [last accessed 21 April 2013]

Journal Notes

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