Cart is empty
My art training began in Bradford in the North of England, where I studied Graphic Design from 1980-1983. After that I then went on to study for a Higher Diploma in Graphic Design, specialising in illustration, at Lincoln Art College.
Once I completed all my formal training I decided to move to London, approaching all of the major city publishers with my portfolio. It was there that I worked on illustrations for children’s books, and after 6 months moved to Cambridge where I continued working as a freelance illustrator.
Upon moving back to my home town of Saltaire in West Yorkshire, I took up the position of designer for a greetings card company, which involved all aspects of product design and development. Following that I became a photographic art director, directing fashion shoots all over the world. I did this for the next year or so until 1993, when I decided to swap my hectic photographic job and lifestyle, for a quieter life back in Saltaire. I spent the next five years here, working freelance on card designs with major publishing companies.
It wasn’t until 1999 that I decided to enter the fine art market and approached Washington Green with my portfolio. Since joining them they have published over 40 of my designs and are currently developing some of my art into sculpture.
“If you don’t want anybody to know anything about you – don’t write a song!”
I can’t remember where I heard this quote, but it serves well to explain how one’s personality is revealed through a song, or in my case, a painting.
I’m naturally a shy person and find it difficult to articulate my thoughts verbally. When I’m put on the spot and asked to explain my work, I usually end up a gibbering wreck, cursing myself later for my lack of verbal dexterity. My true personality reveals itself through my paintings.
Many of my paintings are about good and evil – innocence and malevolence. When I was a child I remember believing what a wonderful and happy place the world was. I loved to learn about other people in other countries and wanted to visit them all. Of course, I now realise things aren’t quite as I once imagined, and the once distant places where I so wanted to be are not so far away; they are actually on my doorstep. The people I wanted to meet are locked in a bitter hatred of each other, divided by race or religion. The world is a place where the innocent pay the heaviest price. It affects me deeply. It’s like living in the garden of Good and Evil. I can’t ignore it, so I depict it in the form of these innocent pictures. I leave it to the individual to look at my paintings and choose what they would like to see, innocence or malevolence – the ‘good’ or the ‘evil’!
Above all else I am, and always will be, an eternal optimist. Optimism is one of the greatest gifts we possess. When I think about it, I think of the song ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting – the lyrics sum it up!
These two opposing juxtapositions ultimately explain many of my paintings. Look at the ones which have malevolent titles – mainly the evil cats. To me they are representations of evil. However, at first glance, the impression they exude is optimism. The wide-eyed cats and dogs always look petrified and are representations of the innocent. You can choose to see these paintings any way you like. See love and happiness or death and the Devil, it doesn’t matter so long as you see something and connect with it.
This is where I draw a connection between these paintings and my abstract paintings. I would like you to see whatever you see! You get the most from a painting if it connects with you. When you look at an abstract painting, you can see nothing, or you can see it all – it’s either for you, or it isn’t! For me, this simple philosophy sums up what is art and what is not – you either like it or you don’t! My paintings are from my soul and I hope, honest!
Before I begin a painting, I start with a very rough preliminary colour sketch, which I may have done weeks or months ago. I keep my sketches along with notes and ideas in dozens of sketchbooks. The books are overstuffed with ragged bits of paper containing ‘those thoughts’ that just pop into your head un-announced at the strangest times.
With the aid of my sketches, I know exactly what I’m going to paint when I’ve pinned up my canvas. It is very spontaneous. I have all my colours pre-determined. I use solid oil bars directly onto canvas, manipulating the paint with my fingers, using no brushes. The paint reacts with the heat from my fingers and the more you work it, the more fluid it becomes. It’s a wonderful and unusual medium to work with.
Composition usually begins life as pure abstract shapes. Flow of line and form, as well as negative shapes, are important here. I also look for connections between shapes and link them with connecting lines. The balance and harmony of colour pull the whole composition together. The end result is part defined and part abstract.
In my ‘pure’ abstracts I look to nature and emotion, and build on that. From life seen through the window of a speeding car, or the blurred reflection of a city seen through bleary eyes, to the depiction of a single moment of intense emotion expressed through layers of paint. It’s a very pure art form.
I wake up around 7.30am and listen to the news on TV, which soon changes to Pokemon when my eight-year-old daughter, Eden, enters the room. My wife Sarah is already up and offers me a cup of coffee and a kiss before she leaves for work. Eden and I get up around 8am, and between now and the school run I try to organise my thoughts for today’s work.
I’m in the studio at 9.30am, where I put on a CD. I can’t paint without my music; it channels my thoughts into the work I’m doing. I need something loud and menacing today - ‘New Model Army’ does the trick! I’m working on a huge family of red cats. It’s a painting I planned months ago and even though the cats are defined, it’s still a very abstract painting. The cats all have evil eyes. They represent evil people, hordes of them. I call this painting ‘Legion’.
At 3.25pm I stop work to pick up Eden from school. After fixing her a bite to eat I finish off painting for the day, followed by a few chores around the house. When Sarah returns from work we both relax for a while with a large gin and tonic. Working the way I do can be an isolating experience and requires self-discipline. I can go for days without speaking to anyone other than my wife and daughter, which doesn’t really bother me. I actually enjoy it. I especially enjoy the reaction when Sarah returns from work and sees a finished painting, where earlier that day all she saw was a blank canvas. My wife and daughter are the first point of contact for my paintings. They are truly my greatest inspiration, and also my very honest critics.
At around 11pm I go into my studio, put on some music and look at the paintings still drying on the walls. This is my thinking time. It’s good to see them with ‘fresh eyes’ and in a different light. Sometimes I just look at them for hours. I always get something out of it, whether it’s a new painting or just a good night’s sleep!
A family business with over 35 years experience, Artisan Gallery supplies Limited Edition Prints, Original Paintings, Sculpture, Photography and other artworks. From original paintings and prints on canvas to framed photography and more. With celebrity artists such as Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood as well as local artists and emerging talent. To find out more about our art please contact us and we would be delighted to assist.