Paul Bell



Glaswegian Paul has worked in interior design and as an architectural illustrator, and is currently a stay at home dad, painting as often as he can in between looking after his youngest daughter, three-year-old Frances. Paul loves oils though admits he can find them messy and slow, and is very happy working with acrylic. The weekly time challenges could work to Paul’s advantage as he embraces time constraints, saying “you can lose spontaneity if spend too long on something!” Married young, and with a young family, Paul couldn’t afford to go to Glasgow School of Art full time when he was younger, but attended classes part time to study life drawing. Paul mostly dreams of having his own studio space to paint - and having more time to paint.



What first inspired you to get into painting?

I got into painting watching my Dad draw and paint when we were young, we always had art reference books kicking about the house and Dad was a keen art collector. At secondary school my art teacher encouraged me to get outside and paint, which I did, it got me completely hooked. My Dad still has some of that work hanging in his house.

What piece of your own artwork are you most proud of?

There are quite a few paintings that I am proud of, particularly portraits I have done of family and friends. I have painted all of my five children some more than others. But the painting I am most proud of is one of an old lady I befriended in our local cafe, it's a small oil study on plywood and I submitted it to the 2014 BP portrait competition. It was shortlisted to the last 250 which I was very proud of. I have it hanging in my house.

Have you had any artistic disasters?

I wouldn't say I've had disasters but certainly I have ruined perfectly good paintings which is quite infuriating, the one that comes to mind is a portrait I did while living in Holland. My brother-in-law was visiting and he sat for me; it was getting really good and I should have stopped but didn't and eventually overpainted it! It's now a still life. My brother-in-law Mark (the beige man of Lanark) has never forgiven me. It taught me that sometimes it may not be and never will be perfect and it should be left alone.

What was it like being critiqued by Lachlan and Daphne – what did you learn most from their weekly feedback?

I thoroughly enjoyed the critiques, not only my ones but what they said to the other artists and I learnt a lot. Daphne could be quite brutal but honest and she told me on a few occasions that I had chickened out of making brave decisions about my painting. She was quite correct in saying this because I was playing safe and my work suffered as a result. One thing that always sticks with me is her advice to draw what you see and then to re-draw if necessary during a painting. Lachlan was great on colour, he recognised that I love the use of bold colours but said that it was important that I don't use colour purely for the sake of it. He also reiterated the need to look and really analyse your subject. I can be a bit lazy when it comes to preparing a painting, i.e. I will rush into the painting a bit without properly understanding and analysing my subject.

Which artist(s) has inspired you the most?

As far as portraiture is concerned I love the later work of Lucian Freud, the scale, brushwork and subject matter is awesome. I love the work of the Scottish colourists and the Glasgow boys, the Fauves as a movement, Francis Bacon and Picasso. I could go on and on and on.

What is your favourite thing to paint or draw?

I think my favourite thing to draw and paint are people. I also love urban landscapes, Glasgow and London are my favourite cities especially the grittier bleak side to them and whacky still life.

Quick questions…

Landscape or portraiture? Portraiture.

Acrylic or watercolour for painting? Acrylic.

Pencil or ink for sketching? Pencil.

Still life or life drawing? Still life.

Lachlan or Daphne? Lachlan (purely on the basis of dress sense).