:: Style & Technique click any image with a coloured border to enlarge.

Comments welcome from anyone!

Joy was a naturally talented artist, although in typical fashion she never considered herself to be that gifted, contrary to the opinions of the National Portrait Gallery where her drawing of Ralph Vaughan Williams can be seen. Her style was not unusual but she adopted a technique that might have been taught at any art school where instead of drawing outlines she built up the image using layers.

Gerald Finzi (1940)
More than any other drawing she describes her style vividly. Here she mentions:

"I found it only possible to start with a dappled faintly coloured paper over which I flit. Any hard certain line is always wrong! Gradually the head emerges from the paper - as a form under one's hand, and through the years I am increasingly interested in the outer world of light & shade around it."

A few of her drawings illustrate the point, although in a sense the next two tend to contradict each other!

Kirstie Milford (1948)
The drawing she produced in 1948 of Kirstie Milford is an unfinished, but complete work, illustrating that Joy built up the image slowly in layers, gradually building up the depth and contrast. One has to remember that the basis for all her drawings was "real life", not from photographs, and this meant she had to draw fairly rapidly while the subject was still engrossed (normally in conversation with husband Gerald).

But with the drawing of Kirstie Milford she says, "I started on this unfinished sketch", indicating that the basis had been done previously. In fact, Joy deliberately left this particular drawing unfinished because, "... it said all there was to be said about her." However, this does give us an insight into her technique as only the vaguest outlines of the face can be seen, apart from the eyes that glint from the paper.

Howard Ferguson (1948)
In contrast, the image of Howard Ferguson of the same year (and immediately following Kirstie Milford's in the book, 'In That Place'), strong, definite outlines are used "to somehow exemplify his "ivory tower containedness" (exemplifying Joy's light humour!).

Alfred Powell (1952)
Joy invariably drew her subjects in a candid position; that is, they would be naturally relaxed and not constrained in a rigid and unnatural pose. Only this way could she capture the "real" person, where the features would relax into their normal mien.

With Alfred Powell, also an artist, Joy was unable to make him settle and eventually suggested they drew each other. Fortunately this worked and the end result is a superbly detailed portrait of an elderly gentleman, eyes cast downwards: in Joy's words, "Every time he worked at his sketch I drew him absorbed and interested & he came alive."

Note: As Alfred Powell was simultaneously drawing Joy, the whereabouts of his portrait would be greeted with great interest - please mail me with any information.

Coen Gomperts Ears (1964)
Although it might be rather strange to introduce this subject, Joy was rather ambivalent towards this organ! In virtually all of her drawings she deliberately avoids the ear and consequently they tend to be defined very faintly - if at all - and are almost ghostly appendages. Joy herself describes them as "...a strange and unattractive invention", but the drawing of Coen Gomperts was different as Joy realised, "... his ear is the dominant feature in his head."

Valentine Ackland (1969)
Following information received from Nigel Finzi, this portrait demonstrates more vividly than any other how quickly she drew. Joy describes that the portrait was completed as Valentine lay on her deathbed, on the request of Valentine's life-long partner, the poet Sylvia Townsend Warner. But what isn't mentioned is that it was completed in half an hour before the undertakers arrived.


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