Artist's Statement (A work in‑progress)
Updated: 10 Dec 2018 (First draft, version 1.5)
Walking home, the sun glints in the air causing me to squint – a fading Summer delight. I'm both warm, where the soft velvet of the sun touches me directly or strokes my jumper and coat, and I'm Winter cold where the sunlight's trace is absent.
Looking skyward, blue sings through glowing yellow Autumn leaves. A Spring blue that defies replication, unless all other ingredients are present. Both the immediately obvious (grass, mud, rock, trees, hills, mist, clouds) and what is only revealed by quiet observation (hovering Kestrels, bobbing Wrens, dancing butterflies, nibbling rabbits and silent deer). A great completeness.
Landscape absorbs. It occupies with the wordless contentment of being in the here and now, breathing-in our enchanted world.
I'm studying how to capture, record and share something of this, using what skills I have in painting and printmaking. The work absorbs; it occupies with a wordless contentment…
I've struggled to write an Artist's Statement for years, never really satisfied mine explained anything.
Galleries needed one, so I wrote a fairly standard paragraph or two. Not a natural writer, disliking 'art-speak' and wary of a pretentious reading, my previous statements haven't shed light on anything much.
I've since had to write for this website, because it's the only way to be findable in the vastness of the internet. I've developed a little confidence in simple plain English descriptions of what I do. Writing down what I do has meant thinking about what I do and it's helped me improve as an artist. My Artist's Statement which should be even more valuable in my development, however, has refused similar treatment.
Recently, I read a book: "How To Write About Contemporary Art" by Gilda Williams, which I've taken to heart and can recommend. The result is the description you've just read, that I'll no doubt rewrite, and rewrite. It's both a first draft and the closest I've got so far to explaining the spark – the why.
When I next re-read it, I may think otherwise!
The story of a Landscape artist
Updated: Feb 2019
I don't think it's possible to live in North Yorkshire, UK, and not be aware of the landscape.
Growing up surrounded by farmland and woods provided me with endless fascinations and moments of wonder as a youngster, which has simply never left me. This is why I'm a landscape artist.
I've lived in North Yorkshire since the age of four when my parents returned to the county. The largest county in England, it has a rich variety of landscape, including: a coastline of sweeping beaches, rocky bays and staggeringly high cliffs; the rolling hills of the Wolds; the lush Vale Of York; the severe and majestic Dales; expansive North Yorkshire Moors and a myriad of rivers and waterfalls.
Altogether this rich variety provides me with more ideas for paintings and linocuts than I can ever hope to make in one lifetime - suffice to say: I'm never in want of inspiration for paintings and prints, and that's just one county in the UK!
I've had the good fortune to visit a few foreign countries, which because their landscape is unfamiliar, it seems exotic and enthralling. I've always found the UK landscape not only exotic and enthralling, but also rich, varied and unique. Wild and cultivated sit side by side, shaped by ancient farming methods still evident today in many parts of the country – the distinctive Dales stone barns, for example. It all makes the UK landscape difficult to beat in my view.
I am embarking on a programme of travel around the UK as and when I can afford to, with the sole purpose of collecting inspiration from other parts of the country. So far, I've spent two working weeks at a place I adore, Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland (2016, 2019), and had a short working holiday in The South Hams in Devon (2017) where I've never been before. I'm hoping Pembrokeshire will my next destination after that, perhaps in 2020 if I'm fortunate.
Some of my finished linocuts/paintings
My art career story
Updated: Aug 2017
I've always been a professional artist. Since leaving art school at the age of 19
I've worked continuously as an illustrator, designer and artist. A full-time illustrator (painter) during my early career, the advance of technology meant I diversified into design for a while. I've taught fine art in higher education and worked in community arts, developing (and running) creative projects for remote and isolated communities in North Yorkshire.
In 2007, I realised an ambition to complete a Fine Art Masters, when I graduated from Leeds University.
I exhibited my first original lino print, a local landscape, in 2006 and this marked the point at which I became a lino print artist – a printmaker. Encouraged by the popularity of my linocuts, I began investing in my printmaking activity, quickly establishing myself in several good quality, private galleries in the region.
Both my landscape and seascape linocuts consistently secured places in juried exhibitions, with art collectors buying up to five at once.
I exhibited my first painting, a beach scene, in 2008 selected for show in a juried exhibition (two years after my first lino print secured a place). However, I 'parked' painting to develop my prints, mainly because I was unclear what kind of painting I wanted to do anyway, having experimented without satisfaction.
After a gap of some years, when my productivity was severely limited due to a serious illness, I'm now well underway with a determined project to renew and rebuild my art practice, and I hope you will get as much pleasure from looking at my distinctive original paintings and lino prints, as I do from making them.
My thanks and appreciation to all those who've supported me this far, by adding my art to their collections.
Two reasons I'm a painter-printmaker artist
Updated: Oct 2018
I split my time between painting oil paintings and making prints. This means my art activity is what's called a dual practice. There are two main reasons why I make both of these things.
Firstly, being a landscape artist who is both a painter and a printmaker helps stop me settling in to a comfort zone, where art stops subtly evolving and stagnates.
Each of the two activities prompt ideas for the other. Looking at subjects with the eyes of a printmaker will often prompt me to question how I look at things as a painter, and vice-versa. Even though my printmaking and painting are at different points in their evolution, they're beginning to influence each others development, which is all good in my view – it will lead to better art.
The second reason is simply that I enjoy the very different challenges and possibilities of each medium. The sum of all the creative possibilities is greater than if I only painted, or only made prints.
In paint I can play with colour and softness not possible in linocut. Lino prints on the other hand are great for texture that would be difficult in paint. Layering in printmaking is also great fun where trying to achieve the same in painting would require lots of masking. I used a lot of masking in my illustration days, so I know how fraught it can be with paint that all too easily leaks under the mask.
Artists who paint and make prints - painter-printmakers
The tradition of artists who both paint and make prints dates back to someone I consider a forefather of dual art practice, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). It probably goes further back than him. Many artists have followed in his footsteps, including the great and lauded Picasso, who was a prolific printmaker as well as painter. So in my desire to be both printmaker and painter, I'm clearly in good company!
The list of respected artists who worked in both print and paint is a long one. Here are a few you may not have realised did: the painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn produced at least 2 etchings, Vincent Van Gogh made 9 lithographs and an etching, while William Turner made many etchings, mezzo tints and engravings. Rembrandt, Gogh and Turner were known for their paintings. Two of my printmaking heroes, Edward Bawden and John Piper known for their prints, were also prolific painters.