Highbury’s ‘painter of Portsmouth’ spending pandemic lockdown creating bright, bold canvases.


  STUDENT FEATURE: By Emily Jessica Turner - NCTJ Diploma in Journalism


Highbury student Michael with his paintings

A Highbury College student has been using his time during the coronavirus lockdown to pursue his creative practice.

GCSE English student Michael Richardson, 21, started his artistic journey when he was in preschool and later began painting after he was encouraged by a schoolteacher.

“I was dyslexic and didn’t make friends, so I was drawing all the time,” he explained. “Later, a teacher put me onto painting and I was smitten with it.”

He has found that the current lockdown has provided him with more time to practise his painting skills and produce works of art.

He said: “The pandemic has given me more time to paint. Before, I was really busy with exams, but then I was doing some gardening and was inspired by the colours.”

Bold, bright colours play a key role in Michael’s paintings.

He explained: “My twin and I would go camping with my granddad and I would love the colours - greens, blues, and pinks that you don’t see in the city.

“I love painting in the summer rather than the winter because the colours are brighter.”

The artist, who has sold some of his canvases, likes to work in several mediums, including watercolour and acrylic paint.

However, he mostly enjoys creating oil on canvas works, using thick paint and short brushstrokes to build up an expressive image.

Michael said: “I like to read up on other artists like Van Gogh, Constable, Monet - I like to study art and be inspired by it. It makes me happy, and I think with art you just have to be happy.”

The artist said that he draws inspiration from lots of things around him.

His canvases often feature landmarks from the city, such as the Spinnaker Tower and the gates to the Southsea Rose Gardens.

Michael, from Milton, said that he is very proud of his hometown: “I love the history, the interesting buildings. It’s beautiful.

“Some of my favourite things to paint are Portsmouth subjects. I like the familiarity of it, that I’ve been to the place that I’ve painted, or I’ve grown up around it. It’s fun to see it on the canvas.

“Portsmouth is known for its naval history but it’s so much more than that - it’s full of colour and life. If I can capture that on canvas it makes me happy.

“I think that Portsmouth lacks an identity in art and I like the fact that I know I can contribute to it - my mum calls me the painter of Portsmouth. I just like Portsmouth and think it needs more artists.”

Currently working towards completing his GCSE, Michael has been a student at Highbury College for four years, during which he has faced several health difficulties.

Michael, who lives with anxiety as well as other medical issues, said: “It’s been difficult.

“Art is therapy in a way, and it’s helped me through things.”

“I want people, when they see my art, to see the passion, the colours. I them to feel something when they see my work.”

Michael, who says he loves history and learning, is considering taking up a Level 2 Diploma in Painting and Decorating at Highbury College.

Emma MacNally, Michael’s English tutor, said: “When Michael emailed me some of his paintings I was totally amazed! I thought they were exceptionally good and he showed a great hidden talent.

“He explained that since the lockdown he had decided to pick up a brush and start painting again. I think it has been a good focus for him and it was lovely to see another side to his talents.

“I wanted staff and students to see his work as I felt he deserved recognition.

“Michael is a great student and his progress in the college has been wonderful, he has worked so hard in his studies and I wish him every success.”

To find out more about Michael’s work by visiting his Facebook page, Portsmouth art, click here

Article Details

  • Date 28/05/2020