Painting is one of my most satisfying pastimes. Although I drew and painted in oils as a youngster, a career in the British Army, followed by many years as a senior business executive, meant that painting was only a sporadic activity and I did not start pursuing my passion again in earnest until I was in my 50s. I am so glad that I did. Since a friend recommended that I try acrylics, I have never looked back; I am a very impatient person, so the fast drying time really suits me. Acrylics also give me options that are not necessarily available in other mediums.
I am an engineer by training and although I love the Impressionists, I have a great deal of difficulty being “loose” in my own paintings. Having tried and failed, I decided to take the route of being a realist artist. I have become a fanatic for detail. However, I am not interested in achieving photorealism – plus I don’t have the patience for it!
My time-consuming technique pretty much prohibits painting en plein air, so I use photographs and sketches for reference in my studio. Consequently, I take a camera everywhere. Although this drives my wife nuts, it means that I’m never short of things to paint.
In general, I try to avoid painting direct copies of my photos. Indeed, I usually make lots of changes, often combining a variety of references to achieve a broader or a more interesting view. First, I will often adjust the perspective, so as to create focal points on one or more “Golden Ratio” (see “tactics” below). I may also change the lighting, moving shadows and illuminated areas to maximise impact. I nearly always change the sky, referring to my large library of photos. And I often add features, such as flowers, to create contrast and interest.
I have deliberately avoided the temptation to focus on a common theme. I am always exploring what is possible, so paint what I enjoy and anything that I think is interesting, be it a landscape/seascape, still life, botanical, animal or portrait/figure. I want to avoid being “type cast” as having a particular style or subject matter.
I mainly use ARA, Atelier Interactive and Daler-Rowney acrylics. The latter’s Prussian blue still works best for me, as does their Titanium buff, which I seem to use more of than any other colour. ARA paints are my favourites; they are smooth and easy to apply, and the nozzles on their containers allow me to extrude the desired amount of paint, resulting in minimal waste. I also use Liquitex acrylic inks both for my floral paintings and also for painting thin lines on my other paintings.
Although I used to paint on an easel, when I started suffering from acute shoulder pain, I invested in a drafting table. Not only did this cure the shoulder pain but it also dramatically improved the accuracy of my painting.
As an artist, I am self-taught but am constantly learning, not only by painting (every painting is an education) but by exhaustive reading and looking in detail at how other artists paint. I love attending art shows, as I not only learn and get ideas from other artists but also enjoy helping them by passing on my experiences.