Some of my earliest memories, are those of long walks with my father along the shingle beach at Winchelsea. They would later inspire me with a unwavering love and respect for the sea.
I remember vividly during the winter months, the raw power of the waves, getting as close to the shore as possible, feeling the ground shake as the waves pounded around me, a relentless bombardment of shear strength.
I would be lying if, like many artists, I said that I could never remember a time when I did not want to be an artist. When i was young growing up on Winchelsea beach, I actually wanted to be a fisherman. I can say for definate however, that i cannot remember a time when i wasn’t drawing or colouring something. And being fortunate enough to live where i did, doodling boats, and the landscape around me was, and is even now one of my favourite ways of passing time.
I am a predominantly self taught artist, indeed the only formal training i have completed was a number of evening courses when i lived in Brighton. Art has however always occupied the vast majority of my mind.
When i was young i discovered a man that i maintain even know as the truest artist there has ever been. I admire him both as an artist and, as a person. Obviously I never met the man, but it was to begin a love affair with art, and mainly painting, that will never diminish. His name was Vincent Van Gogh. And the painting was Starry Night.
When i first saw the picture, in a book (there wasn’t a lot of internet back then!), I was mesmerised and entranced by it. At the time being only young, i could not understand how something as incredible as this painting had been created. What amazing mind, and imagination could bring such a beautiful thing into existence? I became then one of Vincent’s devoted followers, copying his paintings as often as possible. But it was learning about the man, rather than just his paintings that started making me think like an artist.
His passion and commitment, despite the tragedies and hardships he faced. He persevered and kept living his hand to mouth existence, motivated by his unwavering belief in what he was creating and the need to do so.
It’s a difficult thing to describe to someone who doesn’t paint, or doesn’t “get” art. But when you start to paint, the process of seeing something and creating an image of it on canvas. It’s a baffling thing really when you think of the actual process of painting, putting pigment on a canvas with a brush. But it becomes more important than everything else. You begin to look at the world differently, you notice things, shapes, colours, little things that many people pass by. Yes you may end up looking a bit strange, standing in a field or the middle of a street, trying to scribble things into a sketch book. But like Vincent, you begin to see the beauty in the mundane, the story`s and little episodes of life everywhere. And you feel a duty to record them.
Sadly people at the time were not open to Vincent’s vision, or to the man himself, suffering as he did with illness and depression. And unfortunately even nowadays, lots of people only remember him as the man who cut of part of his ear. I wish that more people would read the letters he sent to his brother, Theo. They are quite incredible.
Vincent Van Gogh would be just the beginning for me. From him my thirst for knowledge would lead me through the timeline of Art. From famous Venetian greats, such as Titian, through to the baroque and neoclassical, and then closer still to Impressionism and post impressionism, Van gogh amongst others (Cezanne).
But amongst these, rather famous isms, i did stumble upon, in my opinion one of the most important periods of art history. British 20th century art. Here I began a new obsession, meeting artists who are not, for some reason as well known as perhaps they should be. Artists like Wyndham Lewis (a rather controversial character I know) but still critical in our art history. And others like Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Ivon Hitchens, Alfred Wallis, John Piper, Ben Nicholson, and of course the tragic Christopher Wood. All these artists showed me a true spirit, a unique way of interpreting and portraying the world around me. They displayed a very, at the time modern take on British art, whilst still maintaining a true spirit of place.
I shall delve into these various artists in later blogs, and i shall attempt to explain how these influences helped shape all the work i do know…
Thanks for your time, and stay inspired!