About 4 years ago, I had an idea: I know, I'll paint 13 of my special friends and colleagues and have an exhibition of them. They'll be large canvasses, about 3' x 4' or so. I worked out what I'd call it and contacted a local business to sponsor it. I wouldn't have the exhibition launch in a gallery, it would be in the business premises of my sponsor. I had a meeting with the potential sponsor - they were in hospitality - and were very interested and had the ideal upstairs dining space.  It was perfect for me.  But the sticking point was - they didn't want to actually make any holes whatsoever in the walls. Shame, it would have been great.

Also realising I'd chosen a tough task and it would take me way longer than I thought, I decided to set myself a quicker turnaround exhibition in the meantime, which I did over 9 months from concept to exhibition while I was thinking about it. I painted The North Sea on and off during 6 months.  I exhibited in a guest house in Whitby, and this double portrait – ultimately destined for the larger portrait exhibition of course - is of the owners.