I began painting with oils as a self-taught artist in my late teens, and then honed my drawing skills while reading Zoology in 1967 - 70, having to produce very accurate drawings of specimens and dissections.
My satisfaction in this led to me drawing for pleasure, producing finely detailed pen and ink and scraperboard drawings of birds and mammals – with a few commissions for portraits of pets. I first exhibited in a Society of Wildlife Artist’s exhibition at Woodstock in 1974.
From the late 1970’s, my work, a growing family, and other interests – mainly sailing - put a halt to my artistic output until 2000, when I began to explore watercolour as a medium, choosing at that time to paint seascapes captured on our voyage around Britain. This period lasted for around five years, then other demands on time took over and I only began painting again in 2007 after retiring to West Devon, being inspired to paint again by the wonderfully atmospheric and dramatic wilderness landscapes of Dartmoor, and by our wonderful coastline. In this I was greatly encouraged by my friend the late Ian Heard and the members of the Whitchurch Art Group.
So, virtually all my works from the last 15 years are watercolour paintings, principally of the moor in all its moods, but also the coast and the Tamar Valley. Good composition is important to me and I compose my paintings through the lens of my camera, taking the best features from a number of exposures of the scene to compose the final painting.
Influenced by my very detailed early work I have developed my painting style to produce highly representational landscapes, full of detail, in which I aim to capture the beauty of the coast and our wonderful valley landscape, but chiefly to depict the fabulous ‘essence’ of Dartmoor in all its moods. I am fascinated by the big skies, the wonderful light, space, colours, tones and texture of the moorland and I aim to depict the underlying form of the landscape and the intricate play of light and cloud shadows on it. I paint purely for my own pleasure but like to think that viewers feel that they could step into and become part of the painted landscape before them, so that they can enjoy the same sense of wide-open space, wilderness, beauty, peace and solitude that I feel when immersed in Dartmoor.
I have exhibited in several of the Tavistock Group of Artists’ summer exhibitions; once with the ‘Drawn to the Valley’ group; at The Wharf; in some of the local galleries and have had work displayed in some Tavistock restaurants. In each of the last three TGA annual exhibitions a different one of my Dartmoor paintings was voted ‘best in show’ by the general public.
Two years ago, I changed to water mixable oils as my usual medium when I discovered Water Mixable Oils. I watched every video I could find about using them, started playing with them, learning to make my colour mixes and - more important – enjoying the process. I find them easier to control, brushes can be cleaned with water (and they can be thinned with water to create a wash and used like watercolours too). I am now working on developing my skills with this new (to me) medium. If you’re a painter and haven’t yet tried them, I can thoroughly recommend that you give them a go.
What's the best work-related thing you have done recently?
Changing from watercolour to water mixable oils as my favourite medium.
Where's your favourite place?
It has to be Dartmoor, soaking up in the peace and silence in the middle of the remote north moor.
What's your favourite book and/or film?
Not really my favourite book, but as a teenager I was greatly influenced by Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’. That opened my eyes to seeing how what we do on this planet can affect the environment and wildlife in so many damaging ways. My current favourite book is ‘Wilding’ by Isabella Tree, and my film is still probably ‘Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid’.
What irritates you?
Media interviewers who keep aggressively harassing and attacking interviewees, seeking to trip them up or to find someone to blame. [and people who refuse the Covid vaccine!].
Who would you most like to meet (anyone dead or alive)?
Professor Alice Roberts – such a brilliant medic, scientist, author, researcher, presenter – and beautiful with it!
Who is your hero/who do you most admire?
My wife Kathleen of course, my rock - but it has to be Alice next.
What motivates and inspires you?
The amazingly beautiful and diverse British Landscape.