A WOMAN from Goring has won an award after completing her training as a portrait artist.
Jenny Fay, 36, of Elvendon Road, was presented with the Portrait Diploma Prize by the Heatherley School of Fine Art in Chelsea.
She was the first out of 12 students in her year to graduate from the course, which she started in 2011.
To pass, she had to submit 20 oil paintings for inspection by six judges from the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. These included her diptych Like Father... Like Son, which depicts her husband Henry holding their one-year-old son Reuben. The panel also looked at a selection of her drawings and sculptures.
Mrs Fay, who was born in Nigeria, studied chemistry at St John’s College, Oxford, and then took an art foundation course for a year but gave this up to become a patent attorney in London. She and her husband, who is a GP at the Bell Surgery in Henley, moved to Goring from Southampton in 2006 and she abandoned her law career shortly afterwards. Her mother Judith Aguda and mother-in-law Ginty Fay now also live in the village.
Mrs Fay started attending life drawing classes at adult colleges and later enrolled on a weekly course at Sunningwell Art School in Abingdon. She submitted portraits that she painted during this time to the Heatherley School and was offered a place. She said: “I had always enjoyed painting portraits and it was a case of reprioritising my life. I was quite surprised when I was accepted because I didn’t have a degree in fine art.
“It was also a surprise to win the award but it was a very exciting way to round off my time there. There were some very strong artists on the course so it was a nice achievement.”
Mrs Fay started selling her works through Art At Goring in High Street two years ago and is now accepting commissions.
Her most expensive painting to date, which depicted a jazz trio and took 100 hours to complete, sold for £3,500. Typically, however, each takes her between 15 and 30 hours and earns her at least £1,200. Mrs Fay exhibited at this year’s Henley Royal Regatta for the first time and sold her three pieces for £600 each within a day. She hopes to pursue a regular residency at one of Oxford University colleges.
“This feels like a new phase of life for me as I’m no longer studying full-time and free to take commissions,” she said. “I have a steady income from selling my work; it’s not enough to support myself but it’s moving in that direction.
“It’s a tougher game when people are paying but I relish the challenge and really hope it will take off. I would really like to thank my family for being so supportive with childcare while I finished the course. My husband has also sat very patiently while I’ve practised doing his portrait. I’ve actually painted him three times now.”
For more information, visit www.jennyfay.co.uk