I'm self-taught. Art had been at the back of my mind for a while ... and I knew I didn't want to take the formal academic route. My art journey began in June 2015, when I was given an A5 size sketchbook and coloured pencils at my first art workshop led by John Frederick Black at his studio called The Shed, in Rushden, Northamptonshire.

I had recently written a poem called 'Still a Tree' using a photo of myself sitting on a Banyan tree in Tenerife, taken in 1998. I used this photo as a reference image and within two hours, I had produced my first 'piece'.

I continued to make a lot of coloured pencil drawings and branched off into mixed media collages for a while. But it wasn’t until 1st April 2018 that I made a commitment to experiment with paint and made artwork using acrylic, finally settling with watercolour, ink and gouache mediums. From sketches and still life drawings to paintings of a range of subjects, my mixed media method has been a real joy as I’ve discovered what works, what doesn’t work. Being a self-taught artist provides me with the freedom to experiment and focus on exactly what inspires and motivates me.

Behind the scenes, I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos – tutorials, artist profiles, art seminars and discussions. I’ve consulted and read art books and visited many art galleries.  I have consistently kept an art journal, art notebooks, and an audio diary, to document my journey, cataloguing my artwork and capturing inspirational ideas from YouTube videos that were particularly enlightening.
Why Not?!

To mark Black History Month 2018, the Centre Stage Women of Colour portraiture series showcases everyday Black women who are hyper-visible but invisible.

What do I mean by invisible? Black women live in the intersection between two stereotyped groups, and as a result, they often fall between the cracks. So not only do Black women have to overcome the disadvantages of being a woman in our Society and the disadvantage of being black in our Society, they also have to deal with another form of discrimination, that is  not shared by White women or Black men: social invisibility. This means their presence is more likely to go unnoticed and their voice more likely to go unheard. This suggests that to stand out and voice their opinions, Black women have to work even harder than their fellow Black male or White female counterparts.

The Centre Stage series then is an inclusive and culturally relevant way of addressing gender, race and representation; featuring everyday Women of Colour in an artistic format, something that we don't regularly see, so as to make our experiences of seeing Black women more normalised rather than the exception.

None of the images are a mirror image of an actual person but always a portrait from my point of view.  
Abstract Realism is the infusion of the elements of design with the depiction of real life in visual art.

According to eHow's Definition of Abstract Art:
“Abstract art is art that doesn't have a definable focus. It is art that exists through patterns, colours, texture, and line without the need for an external motivation. Realistic art consists of art that aims to replicate nature. When these two elements combine to create an abstract impression of real life, you get abstract realism.”

When you combine the two concepts of abstract and realism, you get a new style of art that attempts to depict emotions behind a particular real-life object.

The goal of abstract realism involves using abstract painting techniques to slightly distort a real object. Artists take an image and distort it through impressionist, surrealistic and  expressionist techniques to make the painting recognisable but somewhat blurred and distorted.

Abstract realism portraiture is about creating compositions that are deliberately not drawn from real people. My aim with the Impressions abstract realism portraiture series was to combine abstract and realist elements to create an energy in the pieces, along with a colour scheme that captures the essence and mood of the realism.
Adelaide Damoah – her debut exhibition Black Brits (2006) was featured on BBC News, Channel 5 News, and other regional and local media outlets in the UK. Her artwork taken from Black Lipstick paintings was used as an illustration with an article I wrote, 'Exploring Black Sexuality' (Trespass Magazine 2008).

Chris Ofili CBE – Turner Prize-winner (1998). His winning painting No Woman No Cry, is a tribute to the dignity and suffering of Doreen Lawrence, the mother of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.  Chris created a spectacular contemporary tapestry, The Caged Bird's Song, (three years in the making 2014-2017).

Frida Kahlo – remembered for her self portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colours.

Kara Walker – especially known for A Subtlety or The Marvellous Sugar Baby (2014).

Kelogsloops – especially for his dream-like otherworldly watercolour images.

Kerry James Marshall – developed a signature style during his early years as an artist that involved the use of extremely dark, essentially black figures. Named most influential contemporary artist 2018 - No 2 in the 17th edition of the ArtReview Power 100 rising from No 68 on the previous year's list.

Lubaina Humid CBE – especially her paintings and installations that focus on hidden black history. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities. She was one of the first artists involved in the UK's Black Art movement. Lubaina made history as she was the oldest winner of the Turner prize (2017) and the first black woman to win the award.

Romare Bearden – was a late bloomer, taking up the medium of collage – often depicting African American life - in the 1950s and truly immersing himself in the 1960s.

Sean Scully - he makes abstract art and is an international superstar. I love his openness about his knowledge of abstract art, not just the way he makes his paintings, in a rough and ready style, but the philosophy he adopts while in the creative process.

VOKA – especially his Spontaneous Realism Heads Exhibition (2011). Voka's realistic style of painting with its intensely colourful and vibrant subject matter reflects everyday life.

Wangechi Mutu – best known for her large-scale collages depicting female figures in lush, otherworldly landscapes.

Wassily Kandinsky – the first man who, with paint and brush, created a non representational work of art. His Transverse Line (1923) is one of my favourites.

Yinka Shonibare MBE RA – who I bumped into at the Tate Modern last year (2017). His art challenges our ideas about cultural identity, colonialism, and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation.
I usually begin with a soft pencil sketch of the image's outline. Then I'll check out my varied colour charts and choose a colour scheme, which will develop as I go along. My painting process is a mixture of the known and unknown, which is just how I like it! I don't know how the finished painting will look, although I do have an idea. If I knew that in advance, it would be rather boring to paint the image in the first place.

Everything I paint has in some way caught my attention. If I learn something new, e.g. a painting technique, I apply it straightaway.

I keep a track of every painting by cataloguing them in my art journal. I often make audio recordings, which include reflections of the creative process at different stages of the artwork.