I've been a full time professional fine art painter and freelance art tutor since graduating in 2003, based in the Tamar Valley, at St Anne's chapel, working mostly over the South West of England. I was born at Gulworthy and have lived and worked here most of my life.

I have always painted and drawn from early childhood and I decided to build further upon my self taught roots by studying a BA Honours degree in Fine Art at Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth University, after suffering a long term lower back condition, achieving a 2:1 in 2003 and PGCE masters in 2007. I found that the formal study of art and painting stretched my whole approach as in the studio technique was not readily shown nor demonstrated however, the analysis of theory and critical reasoning were mainstream topics encouraging discourse into contemporary postmodernist painting practice.

After graduating and having some commercial success with my work I embarked upon teaching painting methods with the Cornwall Adult Education Authority, a very challenging but enjoyable job, working with so many artist and painters, sharing techniques and seeing how their confidence and skills grow. I also enjoyed designing and delivering many art courses over an eight year period and I still run regular painting classes of my own three times a week (details on my website www.colinpethick.com).

'House', mixed media on canvas

I like to experiment in many mediums and image making techniques investigating the notion of merging abstract themes with figurative painting methods whilst embracing cross cultural dialogue.

Oil paint is my main medium, its rich versatility is very appealing to me and is probably the best medium for mark making and impasto work. I have spent a lot of time in China and painted in China along side some very good well known Chinese artists, they taught me very early on that in both ink painting and oil painting, the purity of the mark is everything, and to quote one of my favourite English painters, Francis Bacon, “The first mark on the canvas is always the purist, one cannot surpass that at any other stage of the painting”. For this reason I tend to work in an “alla Prima" method.

My influences are drawn from many periods in art history and many artists, from the rich Mannerism of the Baroque and the great Russian portraitist, Ilya Repin and Nicholi Fechin, to contemporary painters like, Peter Doig and Gerhard Richter, I particularly like the technique and approach of the American born Edwardian painter John Singer Sargent.

If I get the time I do enjoy painting “en plein air”, the challenge of painting light and mood in one sitting is very exciting, however it's still life and portraiture that really interest me. I have been inspired by the concept of Vanitas in still life for the past 30 years and find rust and decay fascinating. Old doors, rusty hinges and tin roofs have been a part of my work as far as I can remember, the old saying “rust never sleeps" is true, things just get better and better with times mark upon them.

going home
'Going Home', oil on canvas

Still life also offers us such a technical challenge, composition, colour, arrangement, narrative and surface quality, all yummy for us to digest with our eyes and brush. I like to paint a still life in one morning, at one sitting if possible.

I am, I suppose, a “sensualist", so surfaces, textures and colour are so important to me as a painter. This I aim to take into portraiture, I like to paint one head study a day and work from sittings whenever possible, not using
photographs, usually two hours is long enough with a sitter. A head study in oils in two hours is about as fresh as it gets. I don't like to layer portraits and over work them, its a cliche, but I am looking to get beyond a mere photographic likeness, technology can do that, for that reason I am a painter of heads, not faces. If the structure and volume of the head is incorrect then the features mean nothing. A head a day tends to keep the failures at bay.

Being selected to appear on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2019 was a thrill, and really tested my technique in front of a live audience and three very scrupulous judges. I was happy that the actor I painted, Mr Nick Moran, chose
my attempt to take home and he and his charming wife both genuinely liked it but of course I was disappointed not to progress to the semi-finals. However the experience did teach me so much.

'Study of Dave', 2 hours, oil on board
Beauty of 'Transience', Elmer at the Hoe Sensory Garden, Plymouth
yellow and grey
'Arrangement in Yellow and Grey', oil on canvas

I have exhibited with many galleries throughout the South West UK, London and China, as well as the Royal Society of Oil Painters, at the Mall Galleries and The Wallace Collection. I was shortlisted for the Columbian Threadneedle Prize for Figurative Art in 2017 and was awarded the Rupert Lionel Acott for Figurative Painting in 2003.

This year has been particularly busy as I was invited to take part in St Luke's Hospice Elmer's Big Parade and had great fun designing and painting one of the 40 large elephants seen around Plymouth. I have also painted two large scale mural projects and numerous portrait commissions as well as taking part in our regular Open Studios event.

Networking and joining group organisations are always a good thing to promote your art work, so thank you to everyone involved with running Drawn to the Valley, your hard work is greatly appreciated.


What's the best work related thing you have done recently?

It has to be the Sky Arts Portrait competition, closely followed by the Elmer project for St Lukes, however meeting Jody Comer of Killing Eve fame is a close second.

What irritates you?

Typing long articles like this and slow drivers, so many around here!!

Who do you most admire?

Francis Bacon, because he just didn't care one jot about who or what anyone thought nor cared about his work, his paintings, its pure integrity with Bacon, pure expression.

Who would you most like to meet?

John Singer Sargent or Michelangelo or Sir Vivian Richards.

What is your favourite place?

Florence...it's like going home really.

What's your favourite book and film?

Book: Work, and how to avoid it!
Film: Of Time and Place, (a visual essay on the decline of inner city Liverpool) or Death in Venice or Diva.

What motivates and inspires you?

Light, that's it, light hitting things, also I remain eternally optimistic about nothing!