New figurative studies

 White Dresses and Generic girls

To celebrate a new year, here’s a selection of  Andrew Holmes life paintings he’s developed over the past few months.

The ‘white dress figures’ are first painted as full life studies and Andrew then overpaints a simple white shape to highlight the form and contrasts between the soft and sharp surfaces.

untitled figure 7 - oil on canvas - 51cm x 41cm
untitled figure 7 – oil on canvas – 51cm x 41cm
untitled figure 06 - oil on canvas - 51cm x 41cm
untitled figure 06 – oil on canvas – 51cm x 41cm
untitled figure 05 Oil on paper 76cm x57cm
untitled figure 05 Oil on paper 76cm x57cm

In particular, the works are rooted in Andrew’s interest in aesthetics and how an image affects us on a more emotional level.

Using a limited palette for the ‘white dress figures’ he wants these informal  poses to flow and invites the viewer to take a closer look.

Whereas in the generic series (below), these are not as obviously sensual but seemingly frozen, isolated, squared on to the canvas and confronting the audience.

Generic girls
Generic girl in black -oil on panel -76cm x 57cm
Generic girl in white - oil on panel - 80cm x 60cm
Generic girl in white – oil on panel – 80cm x 60cm

Some artists use greens as a colour for underpainting skin tones and Andrew liked the idea that, similar to applying make-up, this could be used as a suggestion of camouflage.

In either group, substrates, textures and colours have been used to differing effect. In Generic Girls the ghostly pallor in girl in black or broken green and brown patina on girl in white’s skin and use of heavier paintwork in the dress, is designed to make the viewing remote and less comfortable.

Commercially, generic forms are employed to target larger audiences and Andrew’s background in providing imagery in this field makes him very aware of the power of this subtle use for psychological messaging.

Girl in blue - oil on paper -76cm x 58cm
Girl in blue – oil on paper -76cm x 58cm

In the faces and body poses Andrew intended to offer an oblique familiarity. Using a combination of his own sketches and references, he continues to explore different techniques and further examine the power of this language. 

untitled figure 9- oil on canvas - 51cm x 41cm
untitled figure 9- oil on canvas – 51cm x 41cm

For Andrew Holmes website, please see :

To contact Andrew, please email

© AB Holmes 2016, All rights reserved.

Thompson’s Gallery – Still, Not Static

For the next couple of weeks Andrew Holmes is showing a small group of cake paintings in Marylebone, Central London.

Devon - 51 x 61cm - oil on canvas
Devon – 51 x 61cm – oil on canvas

‘Still, Not Static’ includes sculptures by  Andrew Lacey, Johannes Von Stumm and Vanessa Pooley, paintings by Peter Kelly, Terence Clarke and Serena Rowe, to name a few. Tony de Wolf’s detailed work is a development of his studies in the techniques of the Flemish Masters and his paintings have hung beside Andrew’s work in other still life exhibitions.

Andrew is delighted to have been invited to take part in this show.

oil sketch (innocence) - Oil on Paper
oil sketch (innocence) – Oil on Paper

Thompson’s Gallery was established in 1982 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk by John and Sue Thompson. In 1991 they expanded with an additional gallery in the West End situated on New Cavendish Street between Marylebone High Street and the renowned medical destination of Harley Street.

cake cake more cake - 70 x100cm - oil on panel
cake cake more cake – 70 x 100cm – oil on panel

The ‘Still, Not Static’ exhibition will continue until the end of January 2016

For Andrew Holmes website, please see :

To contact Andrew, please email

© AB Holmes 2016, All rights reserved.

What’s in a name

I am a doughnut –

Food and cake paintings provide a rich source of inspiration and this subject is where Andrew Holmes is perhaps better known.

Whilst Andrew plans a series of paintings under an initial group title, it is  during the process where he then determines how this will be reflected and when individual titles are attributed.

a rose is a rose is a doughnut -122 x 152 cm - Oil on canvas
a rose is a rose is a doughnut -122 x 152 cm – Oil on canvas

Ironic use in the name for a painting is inspired on many occasions by artists working in other mediums, for example; music or literature present  abundant associated links. At the time Andrew was painting the three pink doughnuts, (above), his daughter was studying English and American Literature, and in particular the writers from the “Lost Generation” based in Paris in the 1920’s. She recounted that after a falling out, Ernest Hemmingway wrote “a rose is a rose is an onion” of  Gertrude Stein’s book Sacred Emily. On hearing this, the painting of three pink doughnuts duly became a rose is a rose is a doughnut.

 In cakes and sweets the colours and textures are familiar to us, suggest pleasure, embodying our more indulgent senses. Andrew is interested in the emotions we experience within this subject and wants to explore this further.

A study of form plays an important role in describing why he selects a particular composition and doughnuts have featured regularly in Andrew’s portfolio of work over the years because in these, he finds there is a monumental, at times precarious element.

In broader terms this reflection of a simple shape appeals to Andrew’s interest in science and a fascination with the findings being discovered of deeper space and worlds beyond ours.

Toroid - 81cm x 102 cm -Oil on Canvas
Toroid – 81cm x 102 cm -Oil on Canvas

When we see these cakes in a bakery window they entice and persuade with promises of delight and satisfaction. The choices available echo aspects of daily life and provides parallels – the simple ring version with curves and a void connects with a more sensual dialogue, referencing subliminal symbolism perhaps not considered.  Throughout our lifetime the desires for pleasure and fulfilment from our experiences are instinctive, unknowingly foods remind and evoke this more intuitive response.

The bolder, jam filled pastries could also be regarded as an allegory for the human condition. Our expectations suggest hidden riches within, however the pleasure taken also hints at a sense of guilt and risks exposing our fragility.

it didn't have to be like this - 122x152cm - Oil on canvas
it didn’t have to be like this – 122x152cm – Oil on canvas

 Whether as a solitary object, or propped together, we can observe, interact and respond, in these paintings Andrew aims to draw attention to how these make us feel.

Andrew says:

“The pieces appear as traditional studies in style and content, presenting a superficial normality overlaying a subtext of desire and temptation. This message reflects the layering of our conscious and unconscious lives. Asking, are we free to enjoy what we desire or do we feel socially constrained to secretly experience gratification?

In the paintings, the depiction of shapes, glossy and wet surfaces, liquids dripping and pouring, are indirect references to the erotic and sensual. The images reflect components of the human condition; desire, temptation, happiness, delight, contentment, satisfaction, envy and guilt interweaves through our material and spiritual lives. We do not need to experience them, but, without consequences, we always do.”

Aphrodite and Adonis – 70x100cm – oil on panel

Each painting created by an artist becomes an important representation of themselves and in development, ideas for a title may become more apparent but much like after a child is born, a previously cherished name can sometimes, then seem inappropriate.

When sourcing a title for a more recent work  Andrew references a well known piece of history –  At a rally in 1963 with 120,000 people attending in front of The Schöneberg Rathaus, Berlin,  John F Kennedy made an impassioned speech declaring his solidarity with the embattled  city : All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner “.  It is a moot point that the inclusion of the word “ein” may have provided an incorrect translation. The word “Berliner” is a German word for a filled pastry and an urban legend  remains suggesting that John F Kennedy had actually said “I am a jam doughnut” – whether this is correct or not, the story lives on and still raises the odd wry smile.

It was a proud if vulnerable moment and in a quiet nod to this, the title I am a doughnut was chosen for the recently completed  painting below.

I am a doughnut – oil on canvas – 61x81cm


For Andrew these works provide a relevant language. Despite the many other observations Andrew intends to give thought to, he regularly returns to further develop this area of study.

For Andrew Holmes website, please see :

To contact Andrew, please email

© AB Holmes 2015, All rights reserved.

Gondolas at the Alexander Gallery

A few Classic views of Venice are now exhibiting in Bath over the coming months.

Gallery owner Peter Slade recently commissioned more work featuring Venice for his winter show and he dropped by to collect four new paintings from Andrew earlier this week.

Gondolas and mooring posts - oil on canvas - 60cm x 80cm
Gondolas and mooring posts – oil on canvas – 60cm x 80cm

When revisiting a subject, Andrew’s approach is to bring together new ideas developed in other areas he studies to his current work.

The exercise of exploring alternative subjects can expand and refresh the mind. This provides an opportunity to review and investigate both the way Andrew advances newer paint techniques, whilst considering the objectives of earlier interpretations.

evening return - oil on canvas 60 x 80cm
evening return – oil on canvas 60 x 80cm

Within the larger and more traditional pieces the informal areas of paint often achieve more clarity and is a source Andrew will then go on to develop in abstract form.

from Riva degli Schiavoni to San Giorgio Maggiore – oil on canvas – detail

Venice overwhelms us with the it’s unique and fascinating atmosphere. In the smaller painting waking gondolas – below, Andrew’s composition discernibly shows evidence of his interest with the more abstract frame of reference. This quiet place, set to one side, offers a peaceful, uncomplicated space and by employing a limited palette with less complex brushwork he hopes this study provides the narrative.

waking gondolas - oil on canvas - 38cm x 46cm
waking gondolas – oil on canvas – 38cm x 46cm


To see this years Alexander Gallery Autumn/ Winter catalogue, please click on this link:

For Andrew Holmes work currently exhibiting with this Gallery:

Andrew Holmes

© AB Holmes 2015, All rights reserved.

Discerning Eye 2015

The Discerning Eye annual exhibition is a show of small works opening this week.

Work for this exhibition is selected from open submission and from artists invited by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Each individual selector curates work by their invited artists alongside the successful selected submissions. 

French fashion designer Nicole Farhi CBE, who more recently has developed her own interests in sculpture and Emma Bridge­water, founder of the eponymous pottery, represent the artists. Larry Lamb, a well-known actor and Stephen Doherty, Director of Visitor Communications for Somerset House, are this years two collectors and they will all co curate this show alongside critics Steve Pill, the editor of Artists & Illustrators magazine and Stephen Snoddy, Gallery Director of The New Art Gallery in Walsall.

Each selector’s section is hung separately giving the impression of six small exhibitions within the whole.

Andrew was delighted to be invited by Steve Pill to be part of this show. Steve has expressed an interest in his work and in particular the bather pieces. With this in mind Andrew has painted Em Bathing, an oil on panel for Steve’s wall. This study encouraged a further development of earlier works, in particular A bathing and B bathing, where Andrew is exploring the relationship between light within dark in combination with the techniques he has employed when working on different subjects.

Em bathing, oil on panel, 40cm x 50cm. (Sold)
Em bathing, oil on panel, 40cm x 50cm. (Sold)

The art critic Brian Sewell who recently died aged 84 was a key figure in the founding of The Discerning Eye and was the only person who was a selector more than once  said “I was here right at the beginning of it … and I’m sentimentally deeply attached to it because Michael Reynolds, whose inspired idea it was, was an old friend”. He will be greatly missed.

To find out more about the organisation behind this exhibition please see:

The exhibition will be opening  in Central London at the Mall Galleries on Thursday 12th November for 10 days from 10am to 5pm and entrance is free.

For further information, please see:

 contact Andrew at:

© AB Holmes 2015, All rights reserved.

Panter and Hall Gallery

Earlier this week Andrew Holmes delivered a selection of paintings to Pall Mall in Central London.

The above painting, dog retrieves stick, an oil on paper, is mounted and framed behind glass.

Works by Andrew Holmes will also be exhibiting with Panter and Hall at the autumn Affordable Art Fair held in Battersea Park alongside many other artists, including paintings by Chris Bushe RSW, David Storey and Martin Llewellyn, pastels and watercolours by Lara Scouller, enamel pieces by Athol Whitmore, and some 3D wallhangings by David Farrer .

The show starts with a Charity preview evening at 5.30pm on Wednesday 21st October, opening to the public on Thursday 22nd running through to the 25th Oct. 2015. 


AB Holmes - dog retrieves stick - 58cm x 76cm
AB Holmes – dog retrieves stick – 58cm x 76cm (Sold)


For more information regarding the work currently exhibited with Panter and Hall, please see:

For further information, please see:

 contact Andrew at:

© AB Holmes 2015, All rights reserved.


New Work – lighting the dark

Further studies of bathers.

Andrew Holmes figurative work is further developing his enquiry into observations of life subjects in relation to a space and has continued with more abstract examination using contrasts and the consequent effect.

What we see, or chose to focus on is unique to each individual and why or how the aesthetic appeals or not continues to fascinate Andrew.

Andrew has been working with various components of an image and by employing a variety of elements, these have provided a new and intriguing thread of thought. In abstracting an image Andrew finds he can gain an alternative appreciation of the more relevant aspects, specifically in connection to the surrounding location and how this bears relevance to an image.

Some freedom from the usual constraints of the more traditional approach combines Andrew’s interest in both the conceptual and the more conventional methods of expression.

This recent painting – rock pool bathers – is one of several works which will be showing later this month.  

rock pool bathers - oil on panel - 50cm x 60cm
rock pool bathers – oil on panel – 50cm x 60cm (Sold)

To contact Andrew, please email

© AB Holmes 2015, All rights reserved.