Image of the Month – Louis Armstrong Aged 22 by Martin Davison SGFA

Louis Armstrong Aged 22 Chalks on paper 71 x 56 cm

Louis Armstrong Aged 22
Chalks on paper 71 x 56 cm

My Louis Armstrong drawing had its debut in the Society of Graphic Fine Art Annual Open Exhibition, and in 2011 it was shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – that’s in the top 900 (7.5%) of the 12,000 entries – but in the end they (most foolishly!) did not choose to hang it.

Music and art have been intimately connected all my life. I started piano lessons when I was eight, and when I played clarinet at school at age 15 I was also co-drawing strip-cartoons with the drummer in our little jazz band.

Then at New College Oxford I played in the Oxford University Jazz Band for nearly four years while I attended the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art part time. I went on to study painting and drawing at St Martins School of Art in London. Ever since then I’ve painted and drawn and sculpted while also playing or singing jazz and classical music as often as people would let me.

In the 1970s and 80s my life was that of a professional graphic designer, architectural modeller and (surprisingly quite successful) board games inventor. But from the early 90s I’ve been able – though struggling sometimes – to be a full time artist/musician, drawing, painting, writing music, playing clarinet and running our band.

Drawing has always been vitally important to me. I’ve never settled on a favourite medium, preferring instead to try just about everything. Picasso said, “I always try to do things that I cannot do, so that I can learn how to do them.” I feel that’s good advice for all of us. And the guiding principle in my approach may be best summed up as “Go for the gritty, not the pretty”. Though maybe sometimes we can achieve a bit of both.


Derek Hulme on Drums
Ink and watercolour on paper
30.5 x 20 cm

Profile of the Artist: A working artist and jazz musician, Martin Davison paints mainly in oils but draws in charcoal, pastel, pen and ink and anything else interesting.

Born in 1931, Martin grew up in Worcestershire and Pembrokeshire and now lives in Mortlake, a part of Richmond upon Thames. Work in advertising and PR gave him a thorough grounding in graphic design, layout and typography, and in 1970 he was appointed head of corporate PR for the Courtaulds Group. He quit this in 1972 to set up Bokonon Productions in Mortlake, a design and invention studio/workshop enterprise dealing in graphic design, architectural model making, toy design, prototype production, and games inventing. More than 20 of his games inventions have been marketed internationally, the best known being Rubik`s Magic Strategy Game. During these years he continued to paint, draw, woodcarve and model in plaster, clay and resins.

Martin exhibits widely. His drawings have been selected frequently for the Pastel Society’s annual shows, and his paintings have been exhibited in the Mall Galleries in London by the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) and the New English Art Club. In addition to being an SGFA member Martin shows with and is on the organising committee of the Richmond Art Society. He has also been a member of the Musicians’ Union for over 30 years, and continues to compose jazz numbers and ballads and plays regularly as well in his own band and others.

Among Martin’s teachers and gurus are the cartoonist and crime writer Gavin Lyall, the art therapist Elisabeth Shubart, the Israeli sculptor and painter Menashe Kadishman, Tom Lupton (a cousin and one-time teacher of furniture design at the Royal College of Art), Patsy Shillinglaw, Dr Richard Baines (past president of the ROI), the art restorer and jazz drummer Derek Hulme, Christine Byron, the poet, painter and jazz trumpteter Jeff Nuttall and the jazz clarinetist and satirical cartoonist Wally Fawkes, aka Trog.

For more about Martin and his art, please visit his web site


About Cynthia Barlow Marrs SGFA

Artist: I draw. Land planner: I was. Urban Sketcher: I am. SocietyofGraphicFineArt - The Drawing Society: I belong.
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2 Responses to Image of the Month – Louis Armstrong Aged 22 by Martin Davison SGFA

  1. Jo Hall says:

    Glad the Society hung Martin’s portrait of Louis at the SGFA Open.

    Just wonderful to hear about all his other accomplishments especially as Music is the optional theme for DRAW 13, the SGFA’s 92nd Open Exhibition in October at the Menier Gallery, London.

  2. Great to discover so much detail had not realised of your achievements dear Martin – never mind RA bypassing lovely image of early Louis (like most such massive nepotistical set-ups, what gets in is a pretty arbitrary happenstance), beautiful Hulme drawing also. Here’s lookin atya, & jamming with you @ 100 Club on our JazzPo SuperJam Thurs 3 Oct (anyone who does not know about this check or e me @, Michael H

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