Portraits by Simon Goss

Article by Sarah Jackman

Simon Goss is a figurative artist and portrait painter based in Swansea. He has been working in figurative art for 30 years, building a large body of work, mainly of life drawings from the nude, many of which were drawn at Swansea Print Workshop’s regular weekly life drawing groups.


Before the pandemic, Simon was drawing twice a week at Life Drawing classes in Swansea, so lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions threatened to leave a large gap in his artistic practice.

Like many people in the pandemic, Simon started to use Zoom to connect remotely and he became curious about this new way of seeing others: “their distracted glances, their slightly haunted expressions” as they interacted with a layer of technology between them and their co-attendees.

He undertook a project of Online Portraits in-volving 21 sitters over 19 paintings (two were doubles) which would record and reflect an aspect of this time and began to adapt his drawing style to work virtually.

His process for portraits, which developed over 2020, involves making drawings and taking screenshots of the sitter during a conversation. He then reviews these before beginning a painting which often captures the sitters in an animated moment, perhaps facing away, or with their gaze averted.

Simon has found that a screen has a distorting effect on perspective which has offered both interest and challenges to the artist who “likes to be faithful to the perspectives I’ve seen”.

Something which surprised Simon was his new interest in the background behind the sitters. Before using Zoom, he was “not the least interested visually [in the backgrounds] but these became part of the appeal”: the curtains which cast colour onto the skin of one sitter, the fortuitous framing of another’s head by the angle formed between the underside of the staircase and a wall.

Each of the Co-Vid portraits features a black band top and bottom. These were initially necessary to reflect the 16:9 proportions of the computer screen he worked from, as he could not get canvases to match due to lockdown restrictions. It soon occurred to him however that they also added an element of claustrophobia to the portraits that fitted with the circumstances of their creation.

Through his friendship with established portrait artist Anthony Connolly RP, Simon was fortunate enough to have one of his lockdown portraits accepted for the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Artists annual exhibition in the Mall Galleries, London this Spring. The portrait, ‘Co-Vid 19 Portrait No.3 – Trixie’, also featured on the exhibition website and was widely promoted on the Society’s social media platforms.

By Sarah Jackman

Commissions for online portraits are available at set prices in three different sizes. These are painted in oils on stretched linen or canvas. They are finished with a satin varnish and can be sup-plied framed or unframed. Simon is also taking commissions for conventional portraits (with a live sitting) with more choice in the sizing and finish.

More of his work, including his online portraits, conventional portraits and nudes can be seen on his website www.simongoss.com.

You can also contact him on 01792 280388 to discuss a commission or to buy existing work.



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