Portraiture at the RBSA: the work of Andrew Shorthouse

The deadline for entering our Portrait Prize is June 12 at 4pm. Read about how one artist approaches portraiture.  Andrew Shorthouse ARBSA takes us through the creation of two recent works…

Portrait of Alex Pettifer MBE


I was commissioned by St Luke’s Hospice, Sheffield, as one of the trustees, to paint a portrait of Alex, who was retiring as Chairman of the Hospice Board.

His great energy and dedication helped St Luke’s develop and maintain its excellence in palliative care. He was instrumental in the launch of a £5 million in-patient centre and purchase of Clifford House for day care and respite

Alex wished to be portrayed in “relaxed mode”. It was painted in oil on 40x50cm MDF board in a triangular composition. The dominant clothing colour was red placed on a subtle yellow/brown background (asphaltum/white/cobaltblue).

Harold Speed’s (thin and dry) method of portraits was used to develop the painting. The industrial finger amputation is barely noticeable but a reminder of his earlier working days.

Portrait of the Legendary Mr Hopeless


We did the anti-clockwise public bus trip on Raratonga a couple of years ago and were quite astonished and superbly entertained by our driver and self-appointed tourist guide.

Pakuru Apu “Mr Hopeless” Simpson, delighted us with his constant source of jokes, songs and witty commentary about everything he saw during the bus ride.

I took a number of photos and from these did an oil portrait sketch of him before hearing that he had sadly died. He was so paintable!

The work is oil on canvas board, 24x30cm, again utilising Harold Speed’s (thin and dry) method of portrait painting. Our Past President, Rob Neil, alerted me some time ago to Harold Speed’s “Oil Painting Techniques and Materials” published by Dover Books. It’s now my bible and is highly recommended to anyone who wishes to explore a great way of doing oil portraits.

Enter Your Work!

Our Portrait Prize is one of our most popular shows and entries close on Wednesday June 12 at 4pm. See the RBSA website for full details of how to enter. The show opens on 25 July.


Andrew Shorthouse comes from a family of artists in Leicestershire (GS Shorthouse PVPRMS HS, Vivienne Cawson RBSA). He was a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon in Sheffield, where he lives, until retirement in 2010, when he took up oil portrait painting with Paul Wright in Leicester.  Andrew now devotes most of his free time to oil portraits. He has regularly had work exhibited at the RBSA and was elected ARBSA in 2016. His work has featured in The Artist magazine and he accepts commissions for oil portraits. Fees are donated to St Lukes’ Hospice in Sheffield, where he is one of the patrons.

#artforsale #artistslife #fineart #portraiture

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All