In February, I painted a scene from London Stadium. It wasn't my usual scene of on field glory - let's face it, there hasn't been much to depict. What I did paint, however, caused far more attention...
I think the dust has settled now, to tell the story of my painting Chelsea Fan Gets Knocked Out, how it came to be, and the media noise that surrounded it.
I wasn't feeling particularly well on 11 February 2023, and this ultimately stopped me attending the game in my usual seat in the Billy Bonds Lower stand at Stratford. I was already intending to make a painting that day. The subject? Pigeons. It was becoming a joke that due to the lack of goalmouth action, pigeons were grazing in the penalty area, completely undisturbed.
But then a WhatsApp message was sent to me featuring a video in a tweet. It was THAT video that EVERYBODY saw. My canvas was cut to 12 inches by 16 inches. 4.5 hours later, my painted sketch was complete...
Initially, people were astonished by the speed of the work. However, 4.5 hours isn't fast. Sky Art's Portrait Artist of the Year allocate only 4 hours to complete a better, often larger portrait.
At this point, it is important to remember that my occupation before COVID lockdown was a storyboard artist. I created on demand, on the fly, in the advertising industry. Nothing would end up in a gallery, everything was a rough depiction and this painting was no different.
When I started the painting, I really had no clear facial image of the guy throwing the punch - nothing that would identify him in a lineup.
The only lead I had was that he looked a little like a young Sean Lock - so I used an image of Sean as a reference. However, my subject threw a 'left hook' for one reason – 'To get the Badge in' which is a social media phenomenon of displaying the Stone Island label. The real guy throwing the punch threw a right hand punch, which doesn't 'get the badge in'.
Moving on to the guy receiving the punch, who everyone got a good look at. Unfortunately, I didn't paint that guy. I painted a younger version of my brother instead - taking a blow to the nose. The real guy has fair to blonde guy taking a blow to the mouth.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is; The brain plays it's part in any art, but this piece in particular. The rest is down to the social media algorithms. To be fair though, this seemed to be the only thing on social media at the time. If I was to sell this piece, it had to be gone by tomorrow...
I was contacted by a few gallery owners over this piece. They wasn't necessarily impressed by the quality of work, or the price that the piece eventually went for...
"This is by far the most viewed painting – at point-of-sale – that I can remember." said one gallery owner.
"To put it into context, if the painting was auctioned at Southeby's the queue would stretch to Southend pier to the East or Windsor Castle to the West."
Personally, as the artist, that was the most satisfying part of the project. Although I realise that Twitter just wanted to know what it went for and who the hell bid that much for it!
Well, the answer was a gentleman in Italy, and it now belongs to actor Ray Winstone.
I didn't tell the media that last part at the time. People had already made their own minds up, and I had ran out of paintings to sell anyway.
Suffice to say, that kid's colleagues didn't try very hard to buy the painting if they were really looking for it. On the plus side, they may have some fun knowing the painting is owned by a film star - unfortunately, it's not him in the painting though.
That's art. It's whatever it means to you. A personal experience that only you 'get'. You sometimes see what you want to see. Anything to get an emotional response.
Today is World Art Day 2023. Circumstance alone has given me the opportunity to show one of the most 'famous' paintings of 2023 - which is a joke really, in every sense. Humour though, is an emotional response - one of the best responses. Today, I ask not of a painting purchase, but just to ask you to visit my home page and sign-up for free, if you haven't already, so once-in-a-while I can show you a bit more of my art. Have a great day, Len x