A Post Before Christmas, New Work and News


It’s been a while since my last post and with Christmas almost here I thought I’d update my blog with recent work and take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Xmas, Bon Noel, Buon Natale, Happy Holidays etc and so on!

It’s been a busy few months so here come lots of images!

First up is an oil on canvas still life titled “I Dreamt I Was”, here’s the painting:

I-Dreamt-I-was-01It’s a curious composition and group of objects I know, but it’s always been an attraction of the genre that it’s possible to symbolise and encode still life work with all sorts of thoughts and feelings. It’s also a great way to challenge technique by including different materials in the choice of objects and those are all the clues you’re getting!

Watercolours have become a regular material for me to work with, I’m still enjoying using them and I’ve also added some water soluble pencils to my materials, here are the latest:

Chloe-01-W Sam-01-W Anca-01-WSpencer-01-W Josie-01-W Tom-01-W Zehra-01-W



Cat-Visitor-01-WI’ve been drawing friends and new people that I meet and the LALU Portrait project is also still ongoing at University College Hospital. Here are some of the latest drawings since my last post: (click for full size)

Annabel-01 Tom-01-mid Judi-01-mid Dilek-01-mid Ann-01

Beverley-and-Maurice-01-mid Kim-and-Kai-01 Nicola-and-Jeremy-01-mid

Sam-01-mid Robert-01-mid Anisa-01-mid Susan-01-mid Maudline-01-mid

Helinda-01-mid Anne-E01-mid Marcella-and-Tom-01-mid Kristine-01-mid

Corinne-and-Ivan-01-mid Eileen-and-Brian-01-mid David-and-Debbie-01-mid


In September I was at an open day for the Camden and Islington NHS in St.Pancras Gardens where I was drawing portraits of visitors. I managed ten drawings in the five hour event, here are all the drawings from the day:

Open-Day-03 Open-Day-10 Open-Day-09 Open-Day-08 Open-Day-04

Open-Day-07 Open-Day-06 Open-Day-05 Open-Day-02 Open-Day-01

I’ve also made a couple of (scruffy) self portraits when there was no-one else to draw.

Scruffy-Self-Portrait-2014 Scruffy-Self-Portrait-2014- Self-portrait-06

Still life has been a fruitful (no pun intended) genre lately, here’s “Still Life with Roses” which is linked to another painting from earlier in the year, (“Malachite, Hematite, Ammonite, Tiger Eye, Lapis Lazuli”), from an earlier blog post. Here’s the picture:


It’s been a busy and productive year and it’s been a pleasure to meet and draw so many wonderful people, thank you to everyone who posed in 2014! Thanks as well to everyone at UCH and LALU for the opportunity to work on such a wonderful project (which now has over one hundred drawings produced).


I’ve also had the chance to try my hand at a few new things, from watercolours and acting as photographer (for LALU’s Bridgathon fund raising event) to Halloween face painting!

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It’s also been a pleasure to see some of my paintings in their new homes in far flung places, thanks so much to Daniela for these photo’s!

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Finally for this post (and this year) here’s a Christmas still life using watercolours and colour pencils and I’d like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and all best wishes for the new year! Thanks for reading!





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Watercolours and Working from Life.

The-Invite-2014A couple of months ago I was given a really great little watercolour set, small enough to fit nicely with my other materials into the bag I carry around with me everywhere. Watercolours have never been something that I’ve used very much, always preferring oil paint and being quite studio based for most of my work, I’ve never put in the requisite number of hours to really learn their particular characteristics and nuances. I still don’t feel that I have enough experience but I am enjoying using them for some of my recent work and they’ve sparked a new set of small scale portraits, just A6 (98 x 148mm) in size, here are the portraits so far (click on any image for full screen).

Idunn-15 Nico-02 Pious-01 Rushaa-01 W Ilaria-02 Robyn-01-W Lewis-01-W Daniela-01-W Farshad-01-W David-01-W Cecile-01-W Tina-01-W Mohammed-01-W Ahmed-01-W Lilia-01-W Ali-01-W Anna-01-W Linda-01-W Tanja-01-W Mansoor-01-W Ranjana-01-W Tahia-01-W this series is definitely ‘to be continued’.

I’ve also used the watercolours for the still life at the top of this post and a couple of other pieces:

Michael-01-W Idunn-02-W Isis-01-W-mid Daniela-02-W

A very big thank you to Annette for the watercolours! Thanks also to everyone for posing and speaking of posing, I recently wrote an explanation of why I only work from life instead of taking the easy option and working from photo, for anyone who hasn’t heard my rationale on the subject and would like to (insomniacs maybe?) the post is on LinkedIn at this address:


More soon and if you’d like to get updates on new work in the meantime there’s also Twitter @SimonTolhurst and facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Tolhurst/16537193567


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Portrait Artist in Residence, One Year On.

Holly-Lewis-Harley-and-ChrisIt’s been a year since I began working on a project as portrait artist in residence at the MacMillan Cancer Centre, University College London Hospital. The project is organised and run by the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Unit (LALU) charity at UCLH and I’ve been visiting on a weekly basis to make portraits of people using the centre. Everyone who poses receives a free signed print of their drawing and I’m intending to exhibit the drawings at a future date.

Here are the latest drawings from the project between my last blog post and now (click on any image for full size).

Annette-02-mid Ukpong-01-mid Roger-01-mid Nora-01-mid Ian-01-mid Ingie-01-mid Alan-01-mid Rick-01-mid Alec-01-mid Donath-01-mid Keith-01-mid Jill-01-mid Kemi-01-mid Michael-02-mid Betty-01-mid Giuseppe-01-mid Olwen-01-mid June-01-mid Adam-01-mid Alison-01-mid Ann-01-mid Anne-L01-mid Milly-01-mid Teresa-01-mid Lola-01-midJeff-01-mid Albert-01-mid Monica-01-mid Martha-01-mid Katie,-Alex-and-Jay-01-mid

David-and-Girolamo-01-mid Janice-and-Brenda-01-mid Shirley-and-Derek-01-mid Dawn-and-Ray-01-mid Sue-and-Mac-01-mid Jane-and-Ben-01-mid Miri-and-Devora-01-mid Krasimir-and-Stefanie-01-mi Janet-and-Alex-01-mid Amy-and-Anne-01-mid Charmaine-and-James-01-mid Holly-Lewis-Harley-and-Chris

I especially want to say a BIG thank you to everyone who’s posed! It’s a privilege to be working in this environment and a pleasure to make the drawings and I’m very grateful too for the wonderful feedback from patients, relatives and staff.

Thanks also to Sara and Steve at LALU for proposing and running the project and to all the staff at the MacMillan Cancer Centre/UCLH who are all just brilliant.

I’m also very grateful to London Graphics Centre and Copycats for their support.

Other drawings from the project are on previous blogposts and the post with all the information on the project is here:


IMG_2820 IMG_2813 IMG_2824

LLU-logo-smallcopycats logologo (2)

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Painting, painting, painting!

DSC_0080I normally publish a new page on my blog when I complete a painting but a combination of being very busy and having several paintings in progress led me to wait for a little longer and publish three new paintings at the same time.

First up is a self portrait painted in a couple of weeks during February.


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I used a mirror to make the painting and in the background are several older pieces that were at the top of the stack of paintings in my studio at the time including “Dimitra Still Life”, “Vivien” and “Tom”.

I usually have a still life painting on the go and here is the latest, “Malachite, Hematite, Ammonite, Tiger Eye, Lapis Lazuli”.

Malachite-Hematite-Ammonite                        MHATELI-detail-05 MHATELI-detail-03

In addition to the crystals in the title, I’ve included a print of a laminate piece I made last year. It started as a drawing visit to the Grant Museum with a friend, this is the drawing and the laminate piece which made the print in the painting:

Sheep-skull-02-mid IMG_1845

Last but certainly not least, my portrait of Lewis is finished after several sittings over the last few months

Lewis-2014 IMG_2425 IMG_2420

DSC_0077Thank you very much to Lewis for all the time spent posing!

There are several paintings currently falling under the category of “in progress” so more to post soon. Thanks as always for visiting my blog!

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“The Reflecting Eye” Exhibition Closed, ULU Still Life and 2014’s First Drawings!

IMG_1238The Reflecting Eye exhibition finished with a lively closing night party on the 23rd Jan, thanks to everyone who joined us and to all the musicians who gave us some great live performances to see the exhibition off with a bang! Photographer Jason Wilde also set up his Free Portrait Studio and had a busy time making over fifty portraits on the night (http://jasonwilde.com/venues-1/st-pancras-hospital)

Thanks to him, also to Peter Herbert the curator and all the other artists in the show!

My latest still life is also finished and with everything happening at ULU (University of London Union) where I’ve been employed for many years, I’ve included some of the portraits from the project I made there ten years ago. I’ve had many of the students pose for me in the time I’ve worked at ULU and the sketchbooks in the painting, together with the laminated drawings, contain around 200 portraits of staff and students.

ULU is facing major changes this year including ceasing to be a student union after nearly 60 years. As someone who studied at a small art college I’ve always been amazed by the facilities available to the students at the University of London. ULU was opened by the Queen Mother in 1955 and has bars, cafes, shop, gym, sports clubs and societies, student campaigns, a 33 metre swimming pool and a gig venue full of history (try typing ‘ULU Gig’ into youtube). The building is also home to the London Student newspaper and staff alumni during my time working in ULU include several musicians and Ricky Gervais who was an Ents Manager there in the 90’s. The students are protesting against the changes which are due to be implemented in July this year.

ULU-Still-Life-2014-midI have had three large scale artworks on display in the ULU building since 2005, there’s a link to my page on that project here:


Mariam-01-mid Deborah-and-Colin-01-mid Billy-01-mid

January usually sees me drawing a lot and this year is no exception, so I’ll finish this post with some of the last drawings of 2013 and the first of 2014. Thank you as always to everyone for posing.

Anwar-and-Mahar-01-mid Dennis-and-Maxine-01-mid Melissa and Virginia 01 mid

Idunn-13-mid Will-01-mid Alex-01-mid Maria-01-mid

Sean-01 mid Steve-01-mid Michael-01-mid Dorin-01-mid Phil-01-mid Kieren-01-mid

Daphne-01-mid Linzi-02-mid Linda-01-mid Annie-01-mid Kay-01-mid

(Click on any image for full size).

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“The Reflecting Eye” Exhibition Open!

IMG_1273The Reflecting Eye exhibition is now open, nestled between St.Pancras, Mornington Crescent and Camden Town in St.Pancras Hospital’s Conference Centre. It’s a group show with Tim Bradford, Annie Hall, Harry Limes, Georgia Mathews, Charlie Pi and myself.

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All the artists have a different approach to depicting people through portraiture, using different techniques, materials and working methods, here are some examples of the work on display:

Charlie Pi Tim Bradford

Georgia Mathews Harry Limes

Annie Hall IMG_1169

I’m showing a lot of recent small scale drawings including the recent portraits of NHS staff

IMG_1155As well as a wall of my painted portraits and my laminate piece “Dimitra” which was last on display at the Saatchi Gallery in 2010, I’m personally displaying a total of 30 pieces and together with my fellow exhibitors it’s a large exhibition.

IMG_1141It’s on display until the 23rd January 2014, open 9am to 5pm Mon to Fri (closed Xmas/Boxing Day and New Years Day) and we’re also planning some Saturday openings and possible events during the run of the show starting this Saturday (14th Dec) from 10am to 4pm! Georgia will be there all day and the jewellery can be taken away on the day rather than having to wait for the exhibition to end. Myself and the other artists will be around too at varying times during Saturday so feel free to drop by and say hello whilst checking out the exhibition!

Tahia-02 IMG_1135 Aoife-02

Thanks also to everyone attending last weeks private view, it was great to see you all!

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The Reflecting Eye


Idunn-2013-mid Aoife-2013-mid Nina-2012-mid

I’m pleased to announce that I have several works in an upcoming group exhibition at St.Pancras Hospital’s conference gallery space. “The Reflecting Eye” is a group show and I’m going to be showing some recent paintings and drawings that fit into the portraiture theme of the exhibition. The work is on display from the 6th Dec 2013 until the 23rd Jan 2014 with a private view on the evening of Thurs 5th Dec, please drop me an email if you’d like to attend the opening evening (simontolhurst@gmail.com), otherwise anytime Mon-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm during the opening dates. All the info is in the poster above and there’s also a facebook page for the exhibition here:


Emma-01-mid Sam-01-mid Breda-01-mid Kuljeet-01-mid

In September this year I was at a conference at St.Pancras hospital to make portraits of staff and visitors and since then I’ve continued to meet up with and make drawings of some of the staff who work in the NHS in Camden and Islington and I’ll be showing these drawings at the exhibition, thank you very much to everyone who posed in answer to the newsletter email or at the conference!

David-03-mid Georgia-01-mid David-02-mid Ace-01-mid Lynda-01-mid

Some thank you’s as always, Peter Herbert the exhibition curator, Kiria Lepink and Harry Limes for the flyer/poster/facebook page, also Venia Bovi and Tanja Tolar for assisting with the exhibition.

Together with the other artists in the show it’s going to be a large and diverse exhibition with a central location, a long opening run and a lively and colourful private view so please do come and enjoy a glass of wine at the opening or a quieter look at the work during it’s display!

Fiona 2011 Anca 2011 Joe 2011

Reflecting Eye flyer front

Hope to see you there!

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