Portraits: People & Pets

In 2012 I decided to focus on portraits. I’d painted one several years before and really enjoyed it, and had always meant to try it again. To prepare I sat close to the model in life drawing and concentrated on heads, for a year, then I painted a friend for the first painting.

They are painted in oils. I used a spatula apart for almost all of the image, resorting to a brush only when there was a fine pattern on fabric to replicate. Aside from a few friends, I sought out writers I knew so that I could begin submitting to prizes that required the sitter to be a well known person.

Sam: friend
Cat Sparks: writer
Rachael: friend
Jason Nahrung: writer
Alan Baxter: writer
Justin: bookseller and friend
Lucy Sussex: writer
*long-listed for the Moran Portrait Prize
Jane Routely: writer
George Ivanoff: writer
Kaaron Warren: writer
Rob Hood: writer

In 2018 I decided to do a series of small portraits of friends portraying only their head only. The large portraits took me six months of weekly sessions to complete, of which up to five sessions were spend on the head. I felt I wasn’t getting enough practise to improve, and hoped the small portraits would provide that. It also took the pressure off finding subjects ‘worthy’ of entering into prizes, and was a lot of fun.

Alison Goodman

Where to from here? Even before Covid19, I was beginning to crave a change. With lockdowns adding to the difficulty of arranging sitters, I decided to take a break.


In 2016 I painted a friend’s cat on a 10cm x 10cm canvas as a gift. Since then I’ve stalked friend’s cat and dog photos on Instagram and Facebook, collecting potential reference photos for gift painting. I haven’t always remembered to photograph the result, so the below is not a full collection of the pet portraits I’ve done so far, but I like how it shows a steady improvement.