Portraiture is the theme Barnaby Jackson has chosen for his exhibition at Chenies Manor Pavilion Gallery this month.

This is the Sarratt artist’s first show in three years and he’s given up his full-time gardening job to concentrate on painting.

So it seems prudent that he takes up residence and uses the gallery as a studio to the delight of visitors, who enjoy watching work in progress.

Alas, the summer gardens outside the gallery, now at their best and all set and prepared for the Chenies Manor Plant and Garden Fair next Sunday, July 19, have proved too great a distraction.

“I have given up gardening, but I still love looking at plants,” says the artist, who had abandoned his portrait in progress to capture a richly coloured and textured scene in the sunken garden, using bold pastels.

The hallmark of Barnaby’s art is the way he “listens” to his subject. He will spot a scene and choose his medium to suit. The same goes for portraits, where he chooses oil, pastel or watercolours depending on the character of the face. The result is an amazing versatility. Barnaby’s exhibitions could be mistaken for group shows as illustrated by the works of art now hanging on the walls of the Pavilion.

The young artist is in his element. Scattered around the studio are works in progress, the pastel portrait of a young child on the easel, a large sketchy start on a scene from the kitchen garden, which he works on late in the afternoon to catch a certain light against a wall. In between are flower images, some delicate, others bold, and the odd coastal scene he is finishing off, as well as a striking charcoal drawing of a woman.

With preparations for the popular Plant Fair going on all around him, Barnaby has agreed to enter into the spirit of helping to make it a family-friendly day.

He is going to set up a table with materials for children to create their own works of art, which will be displayed on one of the walls in the gallery – with a prize for the best or most imaginative work of art at the end of the day.

Chenies Manor Plant and Garden Fair is on Sunday, July 19, 10am to 5pm. Tickets are £5, half price for children under 15. Ample free car parking. For details visit www.cheniesmanorhouse.co.uk Readers of the Watford Observer are once again offered two for one tickets to visit Chenies Manor Plant and Garden Fair. The coupon will appear in next week’s paper, so make sure you get your copy.