A little about me

Like many creative people I have always been interested in drawing and painting from as far back as memory goes,  and Art & Design was always my strongest subject throughout my education, followed by the sciences, and this dual love of both carried on into further education, to many a raised eyebrow concerning the wisdom of pursuing such diverse paths.   

Once the real world caught up with me as a young man, I found myself swept up in the currents of the booming IT industry,  the internet was new on the scene and I found I had a natural affinity for the new technologies,  starting with working for one of the first large internet providing firms before moving into healthcare software deployments and then managing large corporate IT deployment projects with contacts worth tens of millions.   

Despite this,  the role of implementation consultant meant living out of hotel rooms , week on week, year after year for around 15 years ,  and during this time whilst I had little chance to work on large finished paintings,  I had fun buying many different art supplies  from the art stores at every new city I was stationed in,  I would spend the evenings in my hotel room sketching and painting small studies.  For the longest time it was enough to feed the creative coals, but I always dreamed about being able to become a fulltime artist and so when the opportunity presented itself I jumped in feet first and here I am, finally in my element.

 

Where i Live

I was born in, and still live near to the city of Stoke-on-Trent a conurbation of 6 towns in the north of Staffordshire. 

Before being granted city status each of the 6 towns was an independent entity, growing from hamlett, to village to small self governed town.  When the industrial revolution swept through Britain the local resources of clay and coal allowed them to become a world giant in ceramic and porcelain production, giving rise to companies like Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, Churchill, Spode, Steelite, and Moorcroft pottery (to name but a small percentage),  the area as a whole became known collectively simply as the 'Potteries'.  The area has therefore an artistic heritage dating back centuries,  though i must confess to having little to no aptitude for working with clay myself.

Just over 20 years ago i moved to the outskirts of the neighbouring town Newcastle Under Lyme where I have been ever since.  The suburban, borderline semi-rural position suits my temperament better than urban centre life,  whilst at the same time it's not so remote that it takes me long to get to the city centre when needed.

About my work

I am currently exploring the use of a pure colours in a contemporary but still figurative style, reminiscent of digitally manipulated images,  and for sure i use digital tools to help come up with the initial idea, simplify the image and to test colour combinations before I then go on to create the finished painting with traditional paints on canvas or board.  I mostly work in artist acrylic,  and occasionally use oil paint or gouache.  This choice is due to preferring the fast drying and none lifting nature of acrylics.  Though I can be really picky about the brands of paint I use.  The umbrella category of 'acrylic paint', covers a multitude of characteristics and there are some well known brands whose paint I find fairly unpleasant to use.

Despite using digital tools for editing and manipulating my initial source material,  I have never enjoyed creating digital art,  the actual paint and surface interaction is for me a huge part of the allure of painting.  That feedback is totally missing from when i work on my fairly large 22" colour drawing tablet/panel with a stylus.  But boy oh boy do I wish that there was an undo option when I'm painting sometimes.    I really love to see some of the work that is being produced from digital artists these days though,  the new software brushes and paint effects are becoming amazingly sophisticated and create some stunning effects.

In the past I would hazard a guess and say that I was approx' 90% a landscape or wildlife painter,  with the remaining 10% being split between portrait and still life.  That all switched around when I first started painting in my current bold colour style , so for the last few years I have been mostly painting people.  And there is little doubt that colour is in vogue right now as they are the most sought after paintings I've ever produced.

Aside from using acrylic paints I am also an avid paint maker.  Until 2021 i have only ever produced them for my own personal use ,  but I came to the conclusion that the paint I was making was in some aspects equal or better than some of the large brand name paints.   I work very opaquely for the most part, and will only occasionally use a transparent glaze to achieve a particular effect.  Anyone who has used acrylics for any length of time (including the self proclaimed acrylic gouaches) will confirm it when I say "finding a range of artist quality colours that are reliably opaque across the whole spectrum is no easy task"  and in fairness some pigments are by their chemical nature more transparent than others,  whilst some pigments are moderately opaque in high concentrations , they become increasingly transparent when the pigment load is reduced in relation to the binder or filler ratio (usually done as a cost saving measure as some pigments are becoming increasingly scarce and thus expensive). 

I have therefore been busily creating a range of acrylics that are formulated more like gouache,  but rather than use inert fillers to achieve opacity and lower costs,  opacity is derived purely from the pigment loading.   The acrylic emulsion binder, has been added in sufficient quantity to make the paint hold together but no more than that, and no thickeners are used.  This gives a soft fluid paint that due to high pigment content and minimal binder, dries to a pleasing matt finish.  Buffing the dry paint layer with a soft cloth , tissue or piece of kitchen paper turns the matt finish into a light gloss.