Type of artwork you're most likely to produce?Representational oils on canvas
What is your favourite piece of art you have created?Too many have fond memories of the original concept or of their success.
If you weren't an artist what other career would you be in?I could only be an artist.
If you could buy one piece of artwork what would it be?
What inspires you?Life and a fascination with water.
Delving a little deeper
Why do you do what you do?
Because that’s what I was always driven to become and luckily it became the career path I chose when I left art college in the 1970s, I knew it was always going to be a challenge - in fact, a big challenge to sustain for my whole working life but just to prove the disbelievers wrong I was going to get on with it. Was there a business plan? In those days!
No, I just got on with it. Obviously then having a family put the pressure on somewhat but I just pushed on with the painting. I’ve relished every twist and turn, still do and really enjoy the times when everything falls into place (in other words when I get it right and or I’m lucky!).
Can you tell us about your artistic background/education
I was actively encouraged as a child to pursue many craft-related activities but painting was soon the main activity and my exploration of oil painting was underway long before I was a teenager.
School life favourite interests initially focused on history, geography and art with the latter being at the forefront by my sixth form years. I was sent off to evening life drawing classes by my school art teacher and my art college application was a portfolio of those life studies.
Following my fine art degree course, I had the option of a one-year teaching training course or starting a career as an artist. I thought I’d been a student for long enough and wanted to give the latter a go. Within one month I’d got my first commission as a professional artist under my belt. Within 8 months I’d landed my first solo exhibition and pushed my prices up into 3 figures.
Commissions from far and wide have come my way together with commissions from the armed services. My paintings have gone off to numerous countries and some of those were sold off the railings along the Bayswater Road, London railings in the 1980s. Today the internet provides the international platform. How things have changed in my working life as an artist!
There have been lots of twists and turns along the way in the 40 years since that first exhibition yet my representational preferences are still as strong as ever. Whilst retaining those strong representational ideas I have chosen to use a variety of painting techniques ranging from almost impressionistic brushwork to meticulous blending and layering to create realism with a smooth painted surface.
What I find quite ironic is that the real learning started after leaving college and my journey has now returned me to a choice of subject matter and format that I had begun while at art college. The large centre piece canvases that I paint now were first conceived in the 1970s and just to add to that some of the photographs that I used to produce the international award-winning Liberty Series I took in the 1970s.
There that’s a secret out of the bag now, there are some things that haven’t changed!
I mentioned earlier having the option to pursue a teaching career and not taking it but 10 years into my painting career I was asked to do some adult education teaching. With a following of enthusiastic learners, I was encouraged to expand my teaching opportunities, establishing painting workshops and offering life drawing tutoring. I’ve since cut right back on the teaching because it was not allowing me enough time for my own painting.
Do you work in silence or do you prefer a distraction?
Studio painting is a very solitary existence and the thought of silence would make it seem even more solitary. So yes music is on all of the time, sometimes the radio and sometimes my choice of music.
How do you choose the subject matter for your works?
I only paint subject matter that I like and have knowledge or experience of plus an interest in. Over the years I’ve completed many paintings that have incorporated much research and my interest in history has always helped. This type of subject matter will produce an image that is fairly well determined before the actual painting is started.
Some of my water paintings are also a result of careful pre-painting planning and quite often a collection of my own photographs will provide the reference material for the final composition.
For 25 years I had a studio perched on a Devon clifftop and being that close to the sea really provided the inspiration to continue painting the sea. I’d also had a life that involved boats in one way or another. With all the moods that the sea would offer there always was going to be an endless supply of influences on my painting. Inspiration right outside the studio. Fantastic!
Has your practice changed over time?
When I look back over several decades of painting I can see recurring patterns and even noticeable changes particularly in paint handling. Marketing my artwork also has produced some significant influences on my choice of subject matter. I’ve had numerous solo exhibitions and exhibited with some major art societies around the world.
I’ve self-published some of my originals and licenced others which necessitated a presence at major international trade fairs.
Luckily the present-day world of the internet and on-line galleries has enabled me to spend more time at my easel. Hurray!
Even though I consider myself to be a marine artist horses have featured strongly in my painting career. Horses have never been far away throughout my life and have painted quite a few over the years and one such painting was spotted by a dealer in equestrian art amongst other subject matter at an international trade fair when they were on the lookout to replace an artist they had worked with. For quite a few years they wanted dozens of heavy horse paintings each year.
I retained my copyright on all of those equestrian paintings and many were published or licensed. They retired and now I limit myself to just one equestrian painting a year and have immersed myself in water again! Or rather being a marine artist again, and that’s great!
Who are your favourite contemporary or historical artists and why?
I was at an art college where the majority were abstract expressionist followers. One lecturer was a photo-realist and we got on well. I persued the technical skills and admired all practitioners of photo and hyper photo-realism throughout the 1960s and 70s particularly in America and I was fascinated by the scale of their canvases.
In complete contrast I also have a keen interest in those artists of the Newlyn School, partially because of their subject matter but also because of their level of observation particularly of those whos’ lives was at sea. The toil and hardship of life then is fascinating and so well illustrated by artists like Stanhope Forbes.
If you could describe your work in less than 5 words, what would they be?Mesmerising, captivating, twist on traditional.
What is the best advice given to you as an artist?
Setbacks, just ignore them and carry on.