Art

"A good face to paint"

After catching the eye with her impressive series of matchday programme covers for Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers, artist Louise Cobbold was delighted to take on the challenge of painting Steven Gerrard for the cover of Champions Journal. Here she explains her creative process and how she first got into the art of football.

INTERVIEW Dan Poole

What was your reaction to being asked to paint the Steven Gerrard cover?

I was really excited by the opportunity. Firstly, in terms of who it is: Steven Gerrard. He’s a big name, big ex-player. It was an opportunity to paint a portrait of him, to capture something different about him in a manager’s role now. And also I really like portraiture, that's my favourite theme. I'd never worked with a sports agency before, so the opportunity that would give as well and the collaboration that would involve.

What’s your process when it comes to a picture like this?

I use a technique like gridding. It's just a process of transferring the image bigger, while keeping it as proportionally correct as I can. For me getting the likeness is really key. It's probably my primary goal, so the proportions have to be correct. I have to rely heavily on the transfer using a grid. I had to trust that process so that the painting and then the features fall into the right place. It's a bit like building a jigsaw in a way. As long as the first process of the transferring is correct then it should go to plan. I usually paint black first, which I think is unusual. I don’t think many artists do that. But I like the depth that it gives you, putting paint on top of the black. Towards the end stages of the painting I experiment more with brush strokes and texture, depending on the feeling, the mood and the atmosphere that I want to suggest.

Cover artist Louise Cobbold


You were telling me you use acrylic?

Yeah, I've used a lot of acrylic in my background as an artist. The two mediums I tend to work with are acrylic and watercolour, not together but separately. I find that no acrylic painting is lost because if something isn't quite right, you just keep reworking and reworking it until it's right again. You can't do that with watercolour. I actually like the fact that it dries quickly as oils don't. What it gives me is more of a graphic look to my paintings because they do dry quicker.


Were there any specific techniques that you needed to use for this one?

I had to change or adapt my techniques a little with this painting. I'd say one thing particularly was incorporating the rain. I hadn't really come across rain before in portraiture. But it meant thatI had to use a technique with sort of flicking paint and using my finger to produce some of the raindrops. I don't use those techniques very often. I also had freedom with what I could do with the background. So I experimented a lot more than I would normally with background colourings – the look of it, the atmosphere, and also the brushstrokes. That was a bit of a challenge but I quite like challenges. That's why I was quite excited about this piece.

Was there anything that was particularly testing?

Sometimes the challenge presents itself with the likeness, but luckily with this piece that actually fell into place quite nicely. The challenges were more in how I would put across the feel or the atmosphere, particularly in the background. I didn't have a plan in my head, it was all experimentation: how I felt about the painting, particularly in the end stages, and also working with a team. I don't always have that, so I think that’s been really good for me.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

What was your reaction to being asked to paint the Steven Gerrard cover?

I was really excited by the opportunity. Firstly, in terms of who it is: Steven Gerrard. He’s a big name, big ex-player. It was an opportunity to paint a portrait of him, to capture something different about him in a manager’s role now. And also I really like portraiture, that's my favourite theme. I'd never worked with a sports agency before, so the opportunity that would give as well and the collaboration that would involve.

What’s your process when it comes to a picture like this?

I use a technique like gridding. It's just a process of transferring the image bigger, while keeping it as proportionally correct as I can. For me getting the likeness is really key. It's probably my primary goal, so the proportions have to be correct. I have to rely heavily on the transfer using a grid. I had to trust that process so that the painting and then the features fall into the right place. It's a bit like building a jigsaw in a way. As long as the first process of the transferring is correct then it should go to plan. I usually paint black first, which I think is unusual. I don’t think many artists do that. But I like the depth that it gives you, putting paint on top of the black. Towards the end stages of the painting I experiment more with brush strokes and texture, depending on the feeling, the mood and the atmosphere that I want to suggest.

Cover artist Louise Cobbold


You were telling me you use acrylic?

Yeah, I've used a lot of acrylic in my background as an artist. The two mediums I tend to work with are acrylic and watercolour, not together but separately. I find that no acrylic painting is lost because if something isn't quite right, you just keep reworking and reworking it until it's right again. You can't do that with watercolour. I actually like the fact that it dries quickly as oils don't. What it gives me is more of a graphic look to my paintings because they do dry quicker.


Were there any specific techniques that you needed to use for this one?

I had to change or adapt my techniques a little with this painting. I'd say one thing particularly was incorporating the rain. I hadn't really come across rain before in portraiture. But it meant thatI had to use a technique with sort of flicking paint and using my finger to produce some of the raindrops. I don't use those techniques very often. I also had freedom with what I could do with the background. So I experimented a lot more than I would normally with background colourings – the look of it, the atmosphere, and also the brushstrokes. That was a bit of a challenge but I quite like challenges. That's why I was quite excited about this piece.

Was there anything that was particularly testing?

Sometimes the challenge presents itself with the likeness, but luckily with this piece that actually fell into place quite nicely. The challenges were more in how I would put across the feel or the atmosphere, particularly in the background. I didn't have a plan in my head, it was all experimentation: how I felt about the painting, particularly in the end stages, and also working with a team. I don't always have that, so I think that’s been really good for me.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

I imagine different faces are easier or harder to paint. Is Gerrard a kind of a paintable face?

Yeah. As soon as I saw the image I was going to work from, I was really pleased with it. I saw his face and thought, “That's a good face to paint.” I think he does have one of those faces that an artist would enjoy painting. There’s texture on his face. I quite like the side profile as well.

Do you have any particular influences in there in the creative world?

There’s no one name that comes to mind. I do follow a lot of different artists on social media all over the world really, not just in sports art, but mainly in portraiture. So I think the influences are probably subconscious. But I do look up a lot of art most days, just scrolling through my phone. I am influenced by them, but I couldn't pick out one or two names, it’s too difficult.

How did you get into football and art based around football?

The very first painting of football I did was in February 2018 and that was for my husband, Chris, of his favourite player, Ruben Neves, from Wolves. He put it on social media and the response was pretty amazing. Off the back of that I then did a collection of watercolour paintings to get behind fundraising efforts of Wolves fans, raising money and support of the goalkeeper at the time, Carl Ikeme, who'd been diagnosed with acute leukemia the previous summer. That summer Wolves contacted me asking me to do the programme covers for the following season, which was really exciting. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but I was really excited by the opportunity. It's a huge privilege to be asked to do something like that. It's been quite a journey over the last two years.

Your husband supports Wolves. Have you got a team?

I definitely now consider Wolves to be my team. My dad is a Burnley fan, he’s from Lancashire. My wider family are all Ipswich – we live in Ipswich, in Suffolk, but I married into a Wolves family. Chris has always been a Wolves fan, he followed suit from his dad. Chris was a mascot for Wolves when he was six. My son was a mascot as well. The journey that I've been on the last two years has been amazing – I’ve actually attended most of the home games in that time.

Wolves are obviously doing well in the Europa League at the minute. Do those European games give you a bit more fertile ground to play with in terms of getting creative?

The Europa covers are more based on Wolves’ vision – each one should be a different colour, each one should be unique, have a different feel about it. They were supposed to be quite creative and some I had complete freedom in. So, for instance the Torino one with the wolf and the bull – that was my concept, I found the imagery. But the Olympiacos one was the Wolves team’s idea. I developed it a bit but that was their idea. The Europa covers actually draw on my heritage as an artist. It's pulled together my history in art – so landscape, animals, portraiture. Those subjects all came into play.

What was your reaction to being asked to paint the Steven Gerrard cover?

I was really excited by the opportunity. Firstly, in terms of who it is: Steven Gerrard. He’s a big name, big ex-player. It was an opportunity to paint a portrait of him, to capture something different about him in a manager’s role now. And also I really like portraiture, that's my favourite theme. I'd never worked with a sports agency before, so the opportunity that would give as well and the collaboration that would involve.

What’s your process when it comes to a picture like this?

I use a technique like gridding. It's just a process of transferring the image bigger, while keeping it as proportionally correct as I can. For me getting the likeness is really key. It's probably my primary goal, so the proportions have to be correct. I have to rely heavily on the transfer using a grid. I had to trust that process so that the painting and then the features fall into the right place. It's a bit like building a jigsaw in a way. As long as the first process of the transferring is correct then it should go to plan. I usually paint black first, which I think is unusual. I don’t think many artists do that. But I like the depth that it gives you, putting paint on top of the black. Towards the end stages of the painting I experiment more with brush strokes and texture, depending on the feeling, the mood and the atmosphere that I want to suggest.

Cover artist Louise Cobbold


You were telling me you use acrylic?

Yeah, I've used a lot of acrylic in my background as an artist. The two mediums I tend to work with are acrylic and watercolour, not together but separately. I find that no acrylic painting is lost because if something isn't quite right, you just keep reworking and reworking it until it's right again. You can't do that with watercolour. I actually like the fact that it dries quickly as oils don't. What it gives me is more of a graphic look to my paintings because they do dry quicker.


Were there any specific techniques that you needed to use for this one?

I had to change or adapt my techniques a little with this painting. I'd say one thing particularly was incorporating the rain. I hadn't really come across rain before in portraiture. But it meant thatI had to use a technique with sort of flicking paint and using my finger to produce some of the raindrops. I don't use those techniques very often. I also had freedom with what I could do with the background. So I experimented a lot more than I would normally with background colourings – the look of it, the atmosphere, and also the brushstrokes. That was a bit of a challenge but I quite like challenges. That's why I was quite excited about this piece.

Was there anything that was particularly testing?

Sometimes the challenge presents itself with the likeness, but luckily with this piece that actually fell into place quite nicely. The challenges were more in how I would put across the feel or the atmosphere, particularly in the background. I didn't have a plan in my head, it was all experimentation: how I felt about the painting, particularly in the end stages, and also working with a team. I don't always have that, so I think that’s been really good for me.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Art

"A good face to paint"

After catching the eye with her impressive series of matchday programme covers for Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers, artist Louise Cobbold was delighted to take on the challenge of painting Steven Gerrard for the cover of Champions Journal. Here she explains her creative process and how she first got into the art of football.

INTERVIEW Dan Poole

What was your reaction to being asked to paint the Steven Gerrard cover?

I was really excited by the opportunity. Firstly, in terms of who it is: Steven Gerrard. He’s a big name, big ex-player. It was an opportunity to paint a portrait of him, to capture something different about him in a manager’s role now. And also I really like portraiture, that's my favourite theme. I'd never worked with a sports agency before, so the opportunity that would give as well and the collaboration that would involve.

What’s your process when it comes to a picture like this?

I use a technique like gridding. It's just a process of transferring the image bigger, while keeping it as proportionally correct as I can. For me getting the likeness is really key. It's probably my primary goal, so the proportions have to be correct. I have to rely heavily on the transfer using a grid. I had to trust that process so that the painting and then the features fall into the right place. It's a bit like building a jigsaw in a way. As long as the first process of the transferring is correct then it should go to plan. I usually paint black first, which I think is unusual. I don’t think many artists do that. But I like the depth that it gives you, putting paint on top of the black. Towards the end stages of the painting I experiment more with brush strokes and texture, depending on the feeling, the mood and the atmosphere that I want to suggest.

Cover artist Louise Cobbold


You were telling me you use acrylic?

Yeah, I've used a lot of acrylic in my background as an artist. The two mediums I tend to work with are acrylic and watercolour, not together but separately. I find that no acrylic painting is lost because if something isn't quite right, you just keep reworking and reworking it until it's right again. You can't do that with watercolour. I actually like the fact that it dries quickly as oils don't. What it gives me is more of a graphic look to my paintings because they do dry quicker.


Were there any specific techniques that you needed to use for this one?

I had to change or adapt my techniques a little with this painting. I'd say one thing particularly was incorporating the rain. I hadn't really come across rain before in portraiture. But it meant thatI had to use a technique with sort of flicking paint and using my finger to produce some of the raindrops. I don't use those techniques very often. I also had freedom with what I could do with the background. So I experimented a lot more than I would normally with background colourings – the look of it, the atmosphere, and also the brushstrokes. That was a bit of a challenge but I quite like challenges. That's why I was quite excited about this piece.

Was there anything that was particularly testing?

Sometimes the challenge presents itself with the likeness, but luckily with this piece that actually fell into place quite nicely. The challenges were more in how I would put across the feel or the atmosphere, particularly in the background. I didn't have a plan in my head, it was all experimentation: how I felt about the painting, particularly in the end stages, and also working with a team. I don't always have that, so I think that’s been really good for me.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

What was your reaction to being asked to paint the Steven Gerrard cover?

I was really excited by the opportunity. Firstly, in terms of who it is: Steven Gerrard. He’s a big name, big ex-player. It was an opportunity to paint a portrait of him, to capture something different about him in a manager’s role now. And also I really like portraiture, that's my favourite theme. I'd never worked with a sports agency before, so the opportunity that would give as well and the collaboration that would involve.

What’s your process when it comes to a picture like this?

I use a technique like gridding. It's just a process of transferring the image bigger, while keeping it as proportionally correct as I can. For me getting the likeness is really key. It's probably my primary goal, so the proportions have to be correct. I have to rely heavily on the transfer using a grid. I had to trust that process so that the painting and then the features fall into the right place. It's a bit like building a jigsaw in a way. As long as the first process of the transferring is correct then it should go to plan. I usually paint black first, which I think is unusual. I don’t think many artists do that. But I like the depth that it gives you, putting paint on top of the black. Towards the end stages of the painting I experiment more with brush strokes and texture, depending on the feeling, the mood and the atmosphere that I want to suggest.

Cover artist Louise Cobbold


You were telling me you use acrylic?

Yeah, I've used a lot of acrylic in my background as an artist. The two mediums I tend to work with are acrylic and watercolour, not together but separately. I find that no acrylic painting is lost because if something isn't quite right, you just keep reworking and reworking it until it's right again. You can't do that with watercolour. I actually like the fact that it dries quickly as oils don't. What it gives me is more of a graphic look to my paintings because they do dry quicker.


Were there any specific techniques that you needed to use for this one?

I had to change or adapt my techniques a little with this painting. I'd say one thing particularly was incorporating the rain. I hadn't really come across rain before in portraiture. But it meant thatI had to use a technique with sort of flicking paint and using my finger to produce some of the raindrops. I don't use those techniques very often. I also had freedom with what I could do with the background. So I experimented a lot more than I would normally with background colourings – the look of it, the atmosphere, and also the brushstrokes. That was a bit of a challenge but I quite like challenges. That's why I was quite excited about this piece.

Was there anything that was particularly testing?

Sometimes the challenge presents itself with the likeness, but luckily with this piece that actually fell into place quite nicely. The challenges were more in how I would put across the feel or the atmosphere, particularly in the background. I didn't have a plan in my head, it was all experimentation: how I felt about the painting, particularly in the end stages, and also working with a team. I don't always have that, so I think that’s been really good for me.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

I imagine different faces are easier or harder to paint. Is Gerrard a kind of a paintable face?

Yeah. As soon as I saw the image I was going to work from, I was really pleased with it. I saw his face and thought, “That's a good face to paint.” I think he does have one of those faces that an artist would enjoy painting. There’s texture on his face. I quite like the side profile as well.

Do you have any particular influences in there in the creative world?

There’s no one name that comes to mind. I do follow a lot of different artists on social media all over the world really, not just in sports art, but mainly in portraiture. So I think the influences are probably subconscious. But I do look up a lot of art most days, just scrolling through my phone. I am influenced by them, but I couldn't pick out one or two names, it’s too difficult.

How did you get into football and art based around football?

The very first painting of football I did was in February 2018 and that was for my husband, Chris, of his favourite player, Ruben Neves, from Wolves. He put it on social media and the response was pretty amazing. Off the back of that I then did a collection of watercolour paintings to get behind fundraising efforts of Wolves fans, raising money and support of the goalkeeper at the time, Carl Ikeme, who'd been diagnosed with acute leukemia the previous summer. That summer Wolves contacted me asking me to do the programme covers for the following season, which was really exciting. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but I was really excited by the opportunity. It's a huge privilege to be asked to do something like that. It's been quite a journey over the last two years.

Your husband supports Wolves. Have you got a team?

I definitely now consider Wolves to be my team. My dad is a Burnley fan, he’s from Lancashire. My wider family are all Ipswich – we live in Ipswich, in Suffolk, but I married into a Wolves family. Chris has always been a Wolves fan, he followed suit from his dad. Chris was a mascot for Wolves when he was six. My son was a mascot as well. The journey that I've been on the last two years has been amazing – I’ve actually attended most of the home games in that time.

Wolves are obviously doing well in the Europa League at the minute. Do those European games give you a bit more fertile ground to play with in terms of getting creative?

The Europa covers are more based on Wolves’ vision – each one should be a different colour, each one should be unique, have a different feel about it. They were supposed to be quite creative and some I had complete freedom in. So, for instance the Torino one with the wolf and the bull – that was my concept, I found the imagery. But the Olympiacos one was the Wolves team’s idea. I developed it a bit but that was their idea. The Europa covers actually draw on my heritage as an artist. It's pulled together my history in art – so landscape, animals, portraiture. Those subjects all came into play.

What was your reaction to being asked to paint the Steven Gerrard cover?

I was really excited by the opportunity. Firstly, in terms of who it is: Steven Gerrard. He’s a big name, big ex-player. It was an opportunity to paint a portrait of him, to capture something different about him in a manager’s role now. And also I really like portraiture, that's my favourite theme. I'd never worked with a sports agency before, so the opportunity that would give as well and the collaboration that would involve.

What’s your process when it comes to a picture like this?

I use a technique like gridding. It's just a process of transferring the image bigger, while keeping it as proportionally correct as I can. For me getting the likeness is really key. It's probably my primary goal, so the proportions have to be correct. I have to rely heavily on the transfer using a grid. I had to trust that process so that the painting and then the features fall into the right place. It's a bit like building a jigsaw in a way. As long as the first process of the transferring is correct then it should go to plan. I usually paint black first, which I think is unusual. I don’t think many artists do that. But I like the depth that it gives you, putting paint on top of the black. Towards the end stages of the painting I experiment more with brush strokes and texture, depending on the feeling, the mood and the atmosphere that I want to suggest.

Cover artist Louise Cobbold


You were telling me you use acrylic?

Yeah, I've used a lot of acrylic in my background as an artist. The two mediums I tend to work with are acrylic and watercolour, not together but separately. I find that no acrylic painting is lost because if something isn't quite right, you just keep reworking and reworking it until it's right again. You can't do that with watercolour. I actually like the fact that it dries quickly as oils don't. What it gives me is more of a graphic look to my paintings because they do dry quicker.


Were there any specific techniques that you needed to use for this one?

I had to change or adapt my techniques a little with this painting. I'd say one thing particularly was incorporating the rain. I hadn't really come across rain before in portraiture. But it meant thatI had to use a technique with sort of flicking paint and using my finger to produce some of the raindrops. I don't use those techniques very often. I also had freedom with what I could do with the background. So I experimented a lot more than I would normally with background colourings – the look of it, the atmosphere, and also the brushstrokes. That was a bit of a challenge but I quite like challenges. That's why I was quite excited about this piece.

Was there anything that was particularly testing?

Sometimes the challenge presents itself with the likeness, but luckily with this piece that actually fell into place quite nicely. The challenges were more in how I would put across the feel or the atmosphere, particularly in the background. I didn't have a plan in my head, it was all experimentation: how I felt about the painting, particularly in the end stages, and also working with a team. I don't always have that, so I think that’s been really good for me.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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