What is your background?
My background is in the Graphics and Creative industry, and I owned several large design businesses over the last 35 years. I was the Creative Director and driver of the outputs of the businesses which ranged from Packaging & Point of Sale design to 3D and complete in store designs for clients in the retail industry. Latterly, my business was developing itself as a leader in Virtual reality and Augmented reality and becoming more specialised in Digital research capabilities for the likes of Unilever, Diageo, Coke, L’Oréal, Mars and Nestlé. A far cry from being a Commercial artist back in the early 80’s where computers didn’t exist, and everything had to be drawn by hand – but that’s progress.
What inspires you and what is your creative process?
I am inspired by many things, some as simple as seeing something or a view out walking the dog, to how I’m feeling on a particular day. Inspiration isn’t unique and I spend weeks thinking about pieces before I even start work on them, just to make sure I’m clear about the effects I’m trying to achieve. I live high up on the Mendip Hills in Somerset, surrounded by nature so I’m consumed by changing colours every day and these can feature in lots of my work. I also take a lot of inspiration from the sea, having had houses in both Devon and Cornwall, I spent a huge amount of time surfing and in the water being battered by the waves and getting back to the simple feelings of enjoyment this creates – and the fear of course!
What is your favourite subject matter and why?
Favourite subject matter? That’s a tricky one as I have so many. I guess my love of textures is probably my favourite which means I’m fascinated by stones, mud, sand and the patterns they create in your eyes. I love experimenting with how different processes interact with paper or canvass, so I’m always messing around with oils on water or waxes or even industrial cleaners which can create some incredible effects. I’m far from a conventional artist – I get bored far too quickly which means that everything I do is done rapidly – it’s a man thing I guess, so I’m using heat guns to dry work super-fast and gradually build up layers to create an effect.
Who are your biggest influences?
That’s easy – my old Art teacher at School John Steers who I’m still in touch with now and is in his late 70’s. He encouraged me to be creative and not limit myself to the ordinary sketches and scribbles, but to use clay, paint and even materials to create effects which is really what every 16-year-old needs. He also happened to be my outward-bound instructor as well, so as a sixth form student I spent most of my time with him and a group of friends climbing, caving and skiing – which still amazes me that I passed any A levels at all!
Other big influences in adult life were the Cornish school of Art and the art scene around St. Ives in Cornwall where I had a house by the sea. Art was everywhere, in the shops, in galleries, in Cafes so once you’d looked past the abstract seagulls painted on driftwood that are everywhere, the quality paintings by some truly creative people abound. This is where I became far more interested in Contemporary abstract work and moved quickly away from the everyday sketches that I did everyday in my business. I’d like to give a big shout out to all the Cornish artists who stay true to their art!
How have you stayed inspired and energized during the pandemic?
Lockdown was brutal for everyone, and I lost my mojo through 2020 like a lot of people. Although retired, boredom was a real creative killer and I had to work hard to stay focussed. Fresh air helped a lot, so dog walks and yomps across the Mendips with the kids did wonders to make you realise how lucky you are to live where you do. I spent time practicing new techniques and even learning new software on my Mac which expands your thinking a lot. There is nothing like being creative and surprising yourself!
What is/are your favourite medium(s)?
Favourite medium now is Inks on canvas. Not your traditional bedfellows I know, but more durable than paper which helps my aggressive creative techniques where I’m either scrubbing the surface with a scouring pad or blasting it with the hose! Honestly, my studio looks a mess most of the time!
How long does it take to complete a piece, and what is the entire process? Do you like working on different pieces at the same time?
I am always working on multiple works at any given time. Again, this is probably because I get bored very quickly so I’m working on different styles and techniques as well as canvases or paper. I’m very critical of my work and 90% of it gets rejected by me so it’s important to keep variety in some way. Pieces can take as little as a few hours to a few days, never any longer as I would have got fed up with it after that.
Name an artist(s) you’d like to be compared to.
Trevor Bell – The late Trevor Bell was a real inspiration for me using shaped canvases some of which are enormous – 20-30 feet long – to paint on. Even to be mentioned in the same sentence as him would be enough – I’m not worthy. He painted on a mammoth scale and that appealed to my nature, using rollers, bits of wood, anything. My old Art teacher John Steers once commented that perhaps I’d be better suited to painting with a Door Knocker and boot polish! – Bit harsh, but probably true.
What subjects do you pursue and why?
I like using blue in paintings, probably because my wife is always saying “I like it, but it should have more blue in it”! reminds me of surfing and endless cloudless days in the water chasing that perfect wave!
What other artists have been inspirational to you in your work?
Trevor Bell would be the most influential.
What do you hope people feel when they view your art?
Hopefully not nausea! I get a lot of fantastic comments online about my work and comments from friends and I’d be lying if I said that their comments are ignored. I soak up comments and replay them back to myself. Yes, I’m an artist and I should just paint for my own pleasure, but I’m also commercial. Years of running businesses meant that I paint for a reason – and that’s to sell! I don’t want to stockpile a back catalogue of paintings to look at when I’m old, I want as many people as possible to enjoy my work by having it on the walls of their houses or offices.
Projects & Collaborations
I’m always planning new work and now that hopefully Lockdown is behind us I’m planning on some more Inks on canvases – so watch this space!