Spotlight on Ishbel Myerscough, 2018 Selector

Ishbel Myerscough studied at both Glasgow school of Art and Slade School of Fine Art, graduating from the latter in 1993. Just two years later, she won the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award and has since completed two commissions for the Collection. A London-based artist who has moved her studio back into her childhood home, Ishbel teaches at the Royal Drawing School once a week. Of her teaching style, she comments ‘I can’t teach them how to be an artist; I can show them how to look but not how I do it.’

But what of Ishbel’s painting style? Sarah Howgate, curator of Friendship Portraits (National Portrait Gallery, 2015) comments that ‘Ishbel paints painstakingly slowly on a relatively small, sometimes miniature scale, and with a clear, unflinching vision.’ She ‘…is interested in pimples, not only pimples also wrinkles, puckers, tattoos, moles, freckles, bulges, veins, hair, skin colour, stretchmarks – all the things, in fact, that we edit out of our body images. Her work, very often, constitutes a sort of journey to the surface of the human being and everything she finds there she records.’ (Flowers Gallery)

Ishbel Myerscough, ‘Self Portrait in a Flower Dress’ (2016)

For Ishbel, then, character exists in physical flaws: her portraits ‘journey to the surface of the human being’ in order to access the deeper relationships that are too often lost within processed images of a beautified reality.

The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018 is now calling for entries. Open to all UK-based artists, the competition offers a generous range of prizes including a First Prize of £6000, Second Prize of £3000 and Third Prize of £1000. Apply online by 5pm on Monday 25 June:

Ishbel Myerscough, ‘Mothers and Daughters’ (2014)

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