Digby Beaumont


with a micro-interview by Elaine Sexton

William Butler Yeats (from a John Singer Sargent portrait), 6 x 5 inches, graphite on paper, 2018.


Elaine Sexton: I understand you came to painting after a life as a writer, learning from copying the masters. When you made the move from copies to original work, what drew you to portraiture, and the fractured, almost unfinished way you apply paint?


Tai Shan Shierenberg, watercolour on paper, (from the British artist’s own self-portrait painting).


Digby Beaumont: I connect to the portrayal of people more deeply than, say, landscapes or still life, it seems. On the walls of my home hang many portraits and figure paintings―some that have been in my life for years. I’ve always been drawn to the genre.


Tony Hoagland Has Good News, 9 x 11.25 inches, watercolour and gouache on paper, 2018.


My portrait work is all about emotion. Tony Hoagland, for example, I came to as a lover of his poetry, touched by his death in 2018. I studied different photos of him and invented a composite picture that conveyed how I imagined he could be feeling somehow in the context of his own death. My portrait is an expression of how I felt making that picture. What I hope is the viewer will in turn experience an emotional reaction to it.


As an artist, I experiment. I paint by trial and error. For me it’s about a feel I get―for a shape, a line, a colour, a texture, a space, a whole portrait. I mainly work with acrylics and flat brushes now. But the way I paint is evolving and I’m keen to try new techniques and materials. What’s more, I’m always exploring the idea of how little may be needed to convey best what is felt. Though I try not to think too much as I work.


There is a moment―on a good day―when I stand back from a just-completed portrait and see something of the inner nature, the heart, of the person I’ve portrayed. I’ll probably wonder how I achieved it. It will move me.


Digby Beaumont’s short stories and flash fiction have appeared in numerous print and online publications and anthologies, including The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Literary Orphans Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Rose and Thorn Journal, Monkeybicycle, Blue Five Notebook, KYSO Flash, Opium Magazine, 34th Parallel, r.kv.r.y. Quarterly Literary Journal, Flash Frontier, Toasted Cheese Journal, Olentangy Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Jellyfish Review, Camroc Press Review, The Linnet’s Wings, Bartleby Snopes, Slow Trains, Every Day Fiction, Mad Hatter’s Review and Change Seven Magazine. He’s currently putting together a collection of his flash fiction, one-page stories, entitled Dancing Alone and Other Lessons. Beaumont notes: “Around two years ago I faced serious health issues and stopped writing. Months of treatment and recovery followed and I was eventually given the all-clear. About a year ago a passion for art took over.” For more on this maker’s work, see:  https://www.facebook.com/digby.beaumont.