Volunteer Voice: A Portrait A Day

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Posted 25th July 2020

Volunteer Voice:
A Portrait A Day

Nick Holmes, Volunteer

Watts Gallery – Artists' Village is supported by 250 volunteers, who welcome people into the galleries and shop, give tours, support our learning programme and tend our beautiful grounds - amongst many other things! We are keeping in touch with our extended family of volunteers whilst we aren't together. Here, volunteer Nick Holmes talks about how he rediscovered his passion for sketching during lockdown.


During lockdown, the main interruption to my lifestyle has been the loss of my daily early morning swim at the pool. “Big deal", I hear you say, but when you lose something that has been part of your routine for upwards of 30 years it does leave a hole that needs filling.

I studied and enjoyed Art at school over 40 years ago and about 5 years ago rekindled my interest by purchasing a lino cutting kit and have also dabbled with acrylics from time to time. However, the beauty of sketching is that once you have your inspiration, you can pick up a pencil wherever you are and be creative in seconds.

I have tried sketching challenges before where you are fed a variety of subjects or objects on a daily basis, but I personally gain more satisfaction from capturing a likeness or expression in a face than capturing an accurate representation. At the end of March, I picked up my pencils and found a photograph of Frida Kahlo, finishing my first drawing while watching TV. That sowed the seed to complete one portrait per day until the 'end of lockdown'.

The inspiration for my subjects has been favourite artists, musicians and some sports people with a few topical entries along the way. I have tried to pick expressive subjects and photos which emphasise personal features and employ light and shadow to help capture likeness. In my later entries I have gained the confidence to try to imitate the artistic styles of van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse and Rembrandt.

We are very lucky in Surrey to have so many opportunities to experience art and creativity and I never tire from another visit the Watts Gallery – Artists' Village.

Having been a 'Friend' last year I joined the volunteering team to learn more about the Watts' story. I am now looking forward to the resumption with greater enthusiasm than ever.


If you'd like to join our volunteer team contact Claire Griffin on claire.griffin@wattsgallery.org.uk to find out more.

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