Isabella Watling, Florence, 2016
Oil on canvas
100 × 70 cm (39 2/5 × 27 3/5 in.)
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Isabella Watling was born in London in 1990, and spent her formative years in the UK and Australia. From the age of 18 she trained at the Charles H Cecil studios in Florence where she returns periodically to teach portrait and figure painting. The objective of the formal training is to remove any technical deficiencies between the artist's honest perception of their subject and the finished picture.
After living in Italy for six years, she moved to London in 2015 to set up her own studio in Kensington, painting portrait commissions from life. Owing to her thorough training in the Venetian methods, her work is related to and inspired by artists like Velazquez, Van Dyck and Rembrandt.
Watling’s principal focus for her portraits is to capture something of the character and life of the sitter. For her, each portrait is a concentrated response to her impression of the person she paints. In working from life in close collaboration with the sitter, the picture becomes a living artefact of her experiences of the model during the time spent in the studio.
In using the same methods and materials as the great portrait artists of history from all the way back to Titan in 17th century Venice, Watling hopes to give her work a force of integrity that comes through a feeling of timelessness.
Watling’s portraits are regularly exhibited publicly, including the National Portrait Gallery in 2012 and 2014 respectively, where she has also lectured and held a portrait painting workshop. Isabella has undertaken a number of private and public commissions. Commissioned by Pembroke College Cambridge, she painted the world renowned clarinetist, Emma Johnson, and is currently working on a group portrait of the five lady judges of the Court of Appeal to hang in the Inner Temple. Most recently, Isabella Watling was named among the Top Portrait Painters of 2016 by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London. A love of beautiful naturalistic oil painting and its potential for reflecting something of the wonder of being an individual is for Isabella a great challenge and a life's endeavour.