Tessa has always drawn and painted but her formal artistic education started in her mid thirties with the Figurative Painting Diploma at Heatherleys, and has carried on in fits and starts ever since, most recently with two years spent in New York doing a Masters Degree at the New York Academy of Art. She has exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Threadneedle Figurative Art Prize, the NEAC Annual Exhibition, the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize and other group exhibitions in London and elsewhere, winning the Cecil Jospe Prize at the NEAC in 2009. In 2010 she was elected to membership of the New English Art Club. She was awarded a principal scholarship and summer residency at the New York Academy in 2014 and 2015.
Tessa’s work is about finding the visual interest in the world around her. Her picture ideas come from many sources, but normally start with a glance that stops her in her tracks, often based on unexpected shape or colour juxtapositions. Some recent starts have included a multi-panel panoramic view of downtown water towers and skyscrapers, shadows of a stag’s skull, a city street seen through the windows of a cake shop. The subject matter can be close at hand or vast and distant. The vertiginous and unexpected perspectives she has experienced whilst living in New York the last two years has led to an investigation into perspectival systems and how to deal with spatial issues in new ways in her painting.
Drawing is critical to Tessa’s working process and is how she explores her ideas and develops her compositions. The structural and formal qualities of the image are key. Her first degree was in pure mathematics, and geometric organisation and pattern are pretty deep rooted in her work. The more relationships, rhymes and patterns she sees in an image before starting to paint the stronger the final work normally is.