Do you paint from photographs or at the scene?
Whenever possible I like to sketch and draw out of doors. This is the best way for me to retain and then later recapture my feelings about the place when I am painting in the studio. However the places I love to paint are often quite remote, and more often than not, windswept and wet! So I draw quick sketches in situ, take photographs and then do more drawings once I am back in the more comfortable setting of my studio.
Because of Covid 19, my walking and sketching in the hills was abruptly curtailed for most of last year. However, a sketch done many years ago immediately takes me back to the day it was drawn, sitting on a hillside. I can once again hear the calls of golden plovers and lapwings ringing through the air. I hope that my paintings can bring a little of this magic to you.
I never paint directly from photographs. This is not a criticism of people who do. I find that painting from photographs does not give me the results I seek. Paul Klee said ‘One eye sees, the other eye feels,’ and I feel it is my task as an artist to convey what is perceived by this other eye, the eye into the mind and the heart.
I think this is why I enjoy sharing my art through open studios. When visitors come to my studio and respond to my paintings, they are sharing in this experience of the eye that feels. I feel honoured that they share in my vision in this way.
So... here's to 2021... hopefully soon I will be once again roaming the hills with my sketchbook and coming back to my studio to share my adventures with you.
This painting of Cronkley Fell summit was painted during lockdown from sketches made a few years ago. On this occasion there was still snow on the distant fells. The golden plovers had just returned to the dale for the spring, and looking at the scene immediately brings to mind their plaintive calls.
Inevitably over the years, talking to people about my art, I often get asked the same questions. So I thought it would be interesting to answer some of those questions here, especially for those of you who are not likely to come to Barnard Castle to ask me in person. So here is FAQ Number 1...
How long have you been painting?
Well this FAQ comes with several variations, often along the lines of were you good at art at school, have you always been good at drawing, or where did you train?
The answer is that I have always enjoyed drawing… as a child I would be scolded for drawing ballerinas in the end pages of books. I didn’t come from a home where there was a lot of money for drawing materials and paper, but I have a belief that all children love drawing at least until they reach an age where they worry about whether they are ‘good’ at it.
I was privileged by the 11+ to attend a very academic school. One of the drawbacks though was that Art as a subject hardly featured, and was not regarded as a proper subject for study. After school I ended up studying language and philosophy at a university rather than an Art School, so I was more qualified to discuss the nature of art rather than produce it!
One of my early watercolour paintings
But some 25 or so years ago I signed up for a botanical painting evening class, having little idea what botanical painting was about, although I knew I liked flowers. I quickly grew to love this though I have long since moved on from this very precise method of painting. Having moved to Barnard Castle, I took some correspondence drawing courses with the Open College of the Arts, which were excellent. I got really good feedback from an excellent tutor who encouraged me to a much freer method of expression. Since then, I have largely developed my painting style through experimentation. The joy and satisfaction from my successes carries me on through the frustration of failure and I’m glad I never submitted myself to grades or passes and failures!
About this page
My favourite way of selling my paintings is through my open studios, as I particularly enjoy the direct contact with people which this method of exhibiting permits. Over the course of the 12 or so years I have been doing this, I have met many lovely people… some have become close and dear friends, and others I have never seen again. As online selling is now so important, this page is intended to share some of that connection with you wherever you may be. So please add your comments. Keep an eye on this page, and you may see the answer to the questions you would love to ask… email me and I will answer straight away!