Purple Face & Orange Figure By John Nicoll


This is a painting of a face and figure by professional artist (and my Grandpa) John Nicoll. It was part of John’s colourful faces phase back in the late ‘80s / early ‘90s. He sometimes painted them in acrylic and sometimes in egg tempera. I think this one is an acrylic painting and I first saw it while helping sort out some of his pictures in March earlier this year, for an upcoming exhibition. His colourful faces have always been one of my favourite styles and this one instantly jumped out at me. I was given permission to keep it and it became the 3rd piece of Grandpa’s work that now belongs to me. I found a frame as soon as I could and it’s been proudly hanging on my wall for several months now.


I like this painting for so many different reasons, firstly how bold and striking it is, with its natural flowing brush strokes, forming strong and smooth outlines. The natural green and yellow background gives a warm, grassy, summery vibe. I’m also fascinated by the large, wistful face, staring off into the distance and I spend ages wondering what she’s thinking about. Finally, the bending orange figure, arm over her head, as if she’s just woken up and having a refreshing morning stretch after a good night’s sleep.

John sadly passed away on 6th April earlier this year, less than a month after I’d been given this treasure. He was 94 and lived for his art. An artist all his life, he liked to draw, paint, sketch, carve, print, sculpt and teach. I think a large part of our family’s creative ethos definitely came from him. He loved to blend African and Western art styles with his wonderful talent. I grew up with his work all over our walls, and as a child being exposed to the varied and vibrant nude figures in his work meant we never saw the human body as something to hide or be ashamed of, but instead understood just how wonderful and varied all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, genders and sexualities are, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.


You can view some of John Nicoll’s more recent work on his website here: http://www.john-nicoll.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *