Thursday, May 30th, 2024

Meet Martin Wells, a uniquely talented portrait artist in Sevenoaks

Martin Wells is a professional portrait painter based in Sevenoaks.
He began as a portrait illustrator on Fleet Street before moving into art portraiture: learning traditional painting techniques from David Cranswick, a specialist in old master materials. His portraits are painted to commission in oil on linen canvas. Martin stretches and primes the canvas himself and this allows portraits to be commissioned at any size, from large-scale figure work to smaller head and shoulders portraits, including drawings in charcoal and red chalk. He prefers to work from a live sitting in the studio, but, where that’s not possible, photographic reference can be used.

Martin has a range of clients in the UK and overseas and his portraits, when complete, often require a custom-made frame along with a purpose built crate for safe delivery to their destination. His most high-profile portrait to date came in 2015 when he was commissioned to paint a life-size three quarter portrait of the Emirati crown prince Sheikh Mansour. He is deputy prime minister of the UAE, but better known in the UK as the owner of Manchester City football club. This portrait now hangs at his palace in Abu Dhabi.
In the classical painting method Martin uses, portraits are built up in stages with the finest pigments and hand-made materials, just as they would have been in the workshops of Renaissance Florence and Venice. He says it’s not a particularly fast way of working but it does give the portrait a richness and depth that can be difficult to achieve by any other means.
Thanks to a rise in interest, it’s a technique that’s more fashionable now than when he started out thirty years ago, due in part to the popularity of recent exhibitions and special interest TV programmes. Time-honoured methods and materials however, are really just a means to an end. What most people expect in a portrait, first and foremost, is a good likeness. So draughtsmanship is a fundamental part of the process. Martin ran a life drawing group in central London for many years and for the past fifteen years his weekly drawing group in Sevenoaks has been open to everyone, including complete beginners, who want to draw from the live model. And for anyone interested in commissioning a portrait, Martin can be contacted directly and studio visits can be arranged to see the current works in progress.

His portraits are always an interpretation and no two artists are the same, but a well made portrait will have lasting value. They can outlive their subjects and will often last for centuries as singular works of art and as heirlooms for generations yet to come.
Contact Martin on 07990 981467
Or visit the links below for his website or digital brochure
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