Painter & Printmaker
Landscape Artist, UK
I'm an English landscape artist, a contemporary artist, living in the UK, making paintings and prints. I make both oil paintings and linocut prints and my subject is the UK landscape.
The UK landscape
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 am embarking on a programme of travel around the UK while I can afford to, with the sole purpose of collecting inspiration from other parts of the country. Last year (2016) I spent a working week at a place I adore, Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, and this year (2017) I had a short working holiday in The South Hams in Devon where I've never been before.
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, mezzotints and engravings. Rembrandt, Gogh and Turner were known for their paintings. Two of my printmaking heros, Edward Bawden and John Piper known for their prints, were also prolific painters.
A contemporary fine artist ↓
Some of my finished linocuts/paintings
Contemporary Fine Artist
Updated: Jan 2018
What does ‘contemporary’ mean?
The word ‘contemporary’* is found a lot in the art world, but what does it actually mean? And for that matter what is ‘fine art’† too?
I class myself as a contemporary artist. Some people might look at my art and say “No you're not!”. I'll explain why I most certainly am.
A contemporary kind of art
The word contemporary is regularly used to describe a specific kind of art, often very new and experimental art. Art that is more accurately called avant-garde, so the use of the word 'contemporary' here is incorrect. It's used to describe a style of art as though it would belong in a list containing 'impressionism', 'realism', and 'painterly'.
There is another way the word is used however, to mean produced 'now' or 'today'. It's art that has been made within living memory. The formal definition is often given as art made since a certain year, however no one seems to quite agree what year is the start of contemporary art.
A really easy to understand definition is that it's artwork made by a living artist, and the last time I looked, I was still alive and kicking. Several very knowledgeable galleries in London use this last definition, so that's good enough for me.
I am painting paintings and making lino prints right now, so that means I'm a contemporary artist.
Making a fine art of it
So with that cleared up, I'll now look at what being a Fine Artist means.
If something is fine art, it does not infer anything about quality, which might surprise you.
Even though we will often praise something or someone as being ‘very fine indeed’ and even say we're feeling fine, meaning really rather good, this is not how it's applied to art, oddly.
A delicate and intricate skill
The other way we use the word fine, to mean delicate and intricate (complicated) is useful. Art is complicated to produce, even the really simple looking art like minimalism. It also needs finely tuned skills. The art world seems to me to have a bit of a problem though talking about skills, and I've not found a definition which matches what I've said here. Historically, artists were thought of as 'skilled workers' which is when the term fine art came about.
It is generally agreed that fine artists make paintings, music, poetry and sculpture. These are complicated to make and also need delicate, nuanced, skills. While hitting a lump of stone with a big hammer to make a sculpture might not seem like a delicate activity, watching a sculptor finishing their art will soon show you they spend much of their time delicately tapping their chisels.
A crafty confusion
There can be a lot of disagreement about what else is or isn't made by fine artists. Some people think my printmaking is a fine art, while other people would say it's not and that it's a craft instead. The phrase ‘fine art craft’ is sometimes used too which adds to the confusion. I never know whether the Craft Council, or the Arts Council, are including printmaking whenever I read their information. I find I always have to double‑check, and both often exclude it claiming it's in the other camp.
There is a definition which goes something like this, in simple English: fine art is something produced primarily to be beautiful to look at, rather than to be used for anything. Unfortunately, historically architecture has been seen as a fine art even though it's used to keep the rain off and the people who design architecture call themselves architects, not fine artists. There are, after all, lots of things which are complicated and need finely tuned skills to make, so this last definition (made just to be looked at) separates out things, like painting from furniture making.
My paintings and prints are made for no other purpose than to be looked at so they are both fine art – they're also complicated and need fine skills to make them.
A little bit about me ↓
A little about me
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. 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 have consistently secured places in juried exhibitions, with patrons buying up to five at once.
I exhibited my first painting, a beach scene, in 2008 (two years after my first lino print secured a place in a juried exhibition). 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. I explain this more when I talk about being an oil painter.
After a gap of some years, when my productivity was severely limited due to a serious illness, I'm now embarking on a determined project to renew and rebuild my art practice, and I hope you will get as much pleasure from looking at my distinctive paintings and lino prints, as I do from making them.
My paintings and prints have always been of the British landscape (so far) and I explain a bit about how I approach making landscape art.