Five Paintings That Inspire... Jack Ford

Figurative painter, Jack Ford, creates portraits that capture more than simply a likeness alone. With fleshy skin tones, courageous lighting, and a gentle line - his figures come alive with a sense movement and character.

We first noticed Jack when he appeared on Sky's Portrait Artist Of The Year and we love the way his work referenced the old masters. He initially trained at the Arts University Bournemouth before moving to Florence to study under Charles H Cecil.

We asked Jack to pick five paintings that have inspired him over the years and explain the reasons why. Here's his selection.

"To begin, I felt I had to narrow down the parameters as we are blessed to be able to see so many awe-inspiring paintings almost wherever we go. With that in mind, as a Londoner, I felt it appropriate to look at my doorstep and focus on the paintings that I find myself spending the most time in front of whenever I feel stuck.

Therefore these paintings, I am afraid, will be limited to the confines of London or its surrounding areas. I also would like to try and avoid the “greatest hits” and therefore paintings such as the Rokeby Venus by Velazquez and the van der Gueest by Van Dyck will not appear on this list.

George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), Eve Repentant

Tate Gallery, London

George Frederic Watts

This masterpiece, unfortunately, struggles a little with the lighting where it's hung. However, I feel that it has such a fantastic impact utilising the large flowing light up and down the torso of the Eve figure - with a beautiful sense of focus on the impact of light and dark.

Light is being used to describe the form, rather than form describing the light. The anatomy is brought across so well without an over sharpness of emphasis and I love the lost and found edges on this painting, the hair blending to the body in such a fantastic manner that mimics the overall and broad focus of life.

Part of the Eve Triptych, these paintings hang apart from each other. However, I feel lucky to have what I see, which is the most beautiful of the three and brimming with emotion.

Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), Philippe le Roy

The Wallace Collection

Anthony Van Dyck

When you ask most people which Van Dyck painting in London would a portrait painter spend the most time with, many would jump straight to van der Gueest in the National Gallery. Done during his time in Rubens' studio, this head is spectacular in every way. However for a more complete, definitive view of the genius of Anthony Van Dyck, I feel you need to look no further than his portrait of Philippe le Roy.

Philippe le Roy was an ambitious and egotistical character, yet Van Dyck manages to create a warmth to Philippe which is conveyed without any pomposity. You get the feeling that the dog loves his owner rather than being subservient to him - you feel the power of the man but also that you might well get along - if given the chance to meet.

There is something about his subtle expression that suggests he could at any moment burst into a smile. Every part of this painting is on point. The design is incredible and directs the viewer's eye around the technically phenomenal painting. In a room where he hangs alongside some the greatest ever painters, such as Titian, Velazquez and Rubens, to name just a few, this painting carries more clout and carrying power. For a painting with limited “colour” it will never be boring or dull!

Diego Velázquez (1599-1660), Portrait of a Man (possibly José Nieto)

English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House

Diego Velázquez

The typical head and shoulders portrait done to the very best level! What isn't there to love about the genius simplicity of Velazquez in this painting. The sitter's stare is so powerful with such little detail and it's an incredible example of getting the right information down. It's something I go back to every time if I feel I'm overdoing something. This man lives - it's portraiture at its highest and simplest form with no glitz and glamour to distract from any weaker parts of the painting. There is nowhere to hide here and no need to.

Ralph Peacock (1868-1946), Ethel

Tate Britain

Ralph Peacock

Something about red hair in a painting does it for me. I love this work for its quiet mood. It's more naturalist in pose which gives it a lovely sense of informality, you feel the passing hours of the sittings in the wonderfully bored expression on the sitter's face and in her slumped posture. Everything about this painting is so delicate and beautifully painted yet, at the same time, so tactile - you can almost feel the wooden cabinet behind and the soft fur underfoot.

Charles Wellington Furse (1868-1904), Diana of the Uplands

Tate Britain

Charles Wellington Furse

Possibly the most surprising of my selection... There is something about this painting that enthrals me every time I see it. I get the same feeling as when I first saw Sorolla's painting “The Pink Robe”. I could feel the warm summer breeze on that piece and I feel the more substantial cool gust in this one. It's a breeze we have all felt on a cold autumnal walk.

Note how the dogs lean into the breeze while the artist's wife Katherine stops her hat from being blown off. The two elements seem to complement each other.

The strong confident brushwork is similar to that of a Sargent and I find it inspiring as I also strive to use paint with confidence and bravura such as this.

I also love the wonderful simplicity of the landscape in the background, which registers fantastically without being a distraction or competing focal point."

Previous Article Next Article

Availability