There is a small painting by William Parrot, in the Ruskin department of Museums Sheffield, which records my mentor JMW Turner at the Royal Academy on Varnishing Day. Varnishing Day was a special event, when artists could varnish their paintings before the official opening of the Summer Exhibition. Turner not only used this occasion to varnish and put finishing touches to his works but also to significantly alter or even paint an entire picture.

I have a few Varnishing Days ahead of me but for once I’ll not be influenced by JMWT’s example and resist the temptation of making any changes to the painting now. Yet rather than imitating the isolated figure of Turner standing in front of his work, I’ve felt that the scene in the studio today might be more closely compared with an illustration of Varnishing Day by George du Maurier, printed in Punch magazine in 1877. Although I’m the only one working, there’s a distinct shortage of floor space and it feels just as crowded

Spot the difference: