Type of artwork you're most likely to produce?Impressionist images of European Architecture.
What is your favourite piece of art you have created?A painting of Charles Bridge - Prague.
If you weren't an artist what other career would you be in?I had dreamed of being an architect but then I did a week’s work experience in an architect office.
If you could buy one piece of artwork what would it be?It would have to be a Lucien Freud because it is as far removed from my style as is possible.
What inspires you?Taking short Europe Breaks for inspiration and to collect images.
Delving a little deeper
Why do you do what you do?
While at school, I planned to teach art or to become an architect. The interest in architecture was based on studying it as part of my A level Art courses, as well as Physics and Maths. I did a week in an architect’s office as work experience and realised that most people there, dealt with the mundane; how many houses could you squeeze onto a plot; how narrow the skirting boards could be; which side to hang the doors. I applied to Art College. I loved teaching, both adults and children, spending my last 20 years as a Deputy Head of a huge High School. But now, it’s just painting.
Can you tell us about your artistic background/education
I was lucky enough to attend a Technical Grammar School. It was one of the very first in the country. These schools were part of Harold Wilson’s drive to meet the demands of the challenges of the “White Heat of Technology”. There we studied subjects which were less esoteric and more practical, but in the Art room, I was lucky enough to be inspired by Barrie Cook, who went on to teach at a number of Art Colleges in the UK as well as achieving an international reputation as an abstract painter.
After completing BA Fine Art and ATD courses, I taught in Birmingham and Worcestershire before retiring to concentrate on my own painting. I have also curated large exhibitions and worked as a consultant to an online art gallery while selling steadily through exhibitions and on the internet.
Do you work in silence or do you prefer a distraction?
When I was younger, I played double bass in a Jazz Band and did worked semi-pro with scores of musicians in the days when a wedding, for example, would hire a live trio rather than a disco.
I tend to listen to Jazz when working, but lately having discovered James O’Brien on LBC talk radio, mornings now are taken care of listening to his incisive conversations.
How do you choose the subject matter for your works?
My love of architecture drives my choice of subject matter, most often. I take multiple photos which I manipulate digitally before committing the image to canvas using acrylics. The choice of medium is based on how quickly it dries. I need to be able to over-paint as soon as the first layer has dried. The time for oils to dry frustrated me. I try to capture the essence of a building, not include every detail. I sometimes produce images of other subjects to keep the process fresh.
Has your practice changed over time?
Hopefully, the results have improved. When I take a break for some reason, it takes a while to feel my way back in. So, it’s best to keep at it. Walking away from a work and coming back the next day, pretending it’s not yours allows a degree of honest evaluation. Changes needed jump out. Some artists view their work in a mirror for the same reason. The flipped image encourages the same honest critique.
Who are your favourite contemporary or historical artists and why?
My first love was the early work of Graham Sutherland. His semi-abstract studies of hedgerows around St David’s in West Wales inspired me. They were featured in BBC’s Monitor programme and even though in black and white, had a unique power. Later I discovered his portraits, like the one of Somerset Maugham and that of Churchill (which his wife destroyed - as too ugly). What she meant was “too honest”. But, most recently, the works of Lucien Freud move me.
As regards artists portraying architecture, several impressionists did so and more recently Edward Hopper uses buildings, most often as the backdrop for images of human isolation.
My work is not a conscious copy of any artist I have come across.
If you could describe your work in less than 5 words, what would they be?Images intended to evoke memories.
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
Practice makes perfect!
The reality is, that if you were totally happy with an artwork there would be no need to produce any more. The process for perfection continues.