Alice Macqueen – portrait artist

IMG_2578As people passed Alice Macqueen’s paintings at the Peak District Artisans’ July fair in Buxton there were audible gasps.

You could hear other artists and visitors alike whispering and asking who was behind the work

When they found out Alice was still a student about to get her exam results and planning to head to university this autumn they were even more impressed.

The teenager was one of the two runners up in the artisans’ Young Artist of the Year competition and part of her prize was to get exposure at the show.

The painting catching everyone’s attention was a large portrait of an elderly gentleman Alice had first seen on the streets of her home town of Ilkeston, which she had painted on brown paper (pictured above).

It was part of her coursework and before she entered it in the Buxton event she had already had critical acclaim from her tutors and success at the Derby University’s New Creatives competition in the spring.

“Obviously I am really, really pleased the painting has received so much attention. It has given me a lot of confidence and encouraged me to work on portraiture,” said Alice.

She worked part time at the Dragonflies craft shop in Ilkeston’s Bath Street and it was her boss who suggested she entered the artisans contest.

“She saw it on Twitter and said I should give it a go. I didn’t think I would win anything but I knew the experience would be worth it and it certainly was a very useful weekend.”

Alice’s tutor at Ormiston Ilkeston Academy deserves congratulations for encouraging the young artist with her painting and especially portraiture.

Alice has always been a creative child and took art as a GCSE but then she was persuaded to study a BTEC extended diploma in art and design by Sarah Griffiths who had clearly spotted her potential.

“I was considering fashion and textiles but when Sarah saw what I could do she practically gave me one-to-one tuition and pushed me in the right direction. One of the most inspirational things she did was to organise a school trip to see a Jenny Saville exhibition at Oxford.

“When we got there she stood with me front of one of Jenny’s paintings and said ‘you could do this’. It was a real light bulb moment for me.”

Jenny Saville is an internationally renowned figurative artist whose works are usually much larger than life size.

One problem for the student was that the school did not provide paper larger than A1 so that was when she made the inspired decision to use a roll of brown paper she had picked up at a car boot sale.

“I bought it thinking I would use it for something one day but had never thought of painting on it until then. It has worked really well for me and helped me with what I was trying to achieve,” she said.

“I had seen Peter (the man in the painting) outside Wilkinson’s with his bike a few times and spotted the character in his face. Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask him if I could take his picture and painted him from the photograph. He has since found out about the painting and phoned the school and asked to see it. We have been in touch and he really likes it.”

Alice has now set off to study fine art at Birmingham City University.

“I just can’t wait to get started at university. I love what I have been doing and can’t see myself doing anything else at this stage,” she said.

With another three years of studying and mentoring behind her she will certainly be one to watch out for in the future.