Lucy Threlfall is an artist based in north Hertfordshire. Her work almost entirely takes the form of oil paint on canvas: large gestural landscapes that fuse observations of nature with imagination and memory. Her process starts with drawing outside, then using these sketches, she paints abstracted responses to landscape in the studio.
Combining observation with imagination, Lucy tries to convey how the natural world speaks about our human condition – the light, the form, the feeling of a place seem to tell us a story about ourselves. Sometimes these paintings are enough as they are but sometimes, especially when they are unresolved, they become springboards for ideas and figures that emerge spontaneously and start to tell their stories. Recently these figures have come from the world of classical mythology and Lucy uses old master depictions as a source of inspiration. Certain narratives and archetypes, particularly those connected with metamorphosis, have particular power for Lucy and help her to explore aspects of being in an unconscious way.
The other side of Lucy’s practice is portrait painting. Since 1997 she’s been taking commissions made from direct study during live sittings, both oil paintings and charcoal drawings. Lucy has exhibited with the Royal Society of Portraits Painters at the Mall Galleries in 2003, at Christie’s in 2005 in the Garrick Milne prize with a portrait of Jimmy Carr. Earlier this year she took part in Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, in which she painted the singer Celeste.
(Sky Arts, 8pm November 3rd 2021)
Whether I’m starting with a person or a place I will begin with a drawing to help me understand what the subject is and then use the more intriguing or inventive marks to help me frame an eventual painting. The drawing also embeds the memory, so that back in the studio I can sink into that memory and pull out what interests me and rearrange things to tell the story of that encounter. I rely heavily on using accidents to show me the way forward and to encourage me to avoid being too literal, while trying to find the interesting places between figuration and abstraction. I will re-paint and over-paint many times in the attempt to solve the puzzle the painting presents, allowing layers of paint to create energy and depth.