In the paragraph ‘about the writer’ on the flyleaf of a novel, it is customary to list the jobs – preferably a combination of exotic and super-mundane like ‘lorry driver and lion tamer’ - that the author has engaged in while on the road to becoming a writer. Presumably it is felt that a wide experience of life gives depth to the writing. Artists don’t do this; which art college you went to and a long list of exhibitions is generally the sum total of information. It’s the same for musicians. I find this rather dull, so:
I was born in the East End of London and have painted all my life, it being a safe, indoor occupation that my parents approved of as keeping me off the streets. When my father had finished with his Painting By Numbers kits, he handed the boards and leftover paints to me and I painted something quite different over the top, a frugalism employed by many Old Masters. I also followed O.M. tradition by spending a good third of my life copying other peoples’ work since, although my parents approved of Art as keeping me off the streets, they didn’t approve of art colleges, which they considered to be even more potentially dangerous than the streets. Baulked of a straightforward art career, I carried on painting while earning my living as a typist; scientific officer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fish and Food; journalist in the electronics industry; actor and musician. (I’m exaggerating for effect there – painting has earned me vastly more than music or acting ever did.)
My self-taught route has been through most ‘isms’ known to art history: Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauvism, Surrealism and back to Realism. I have painted ‘botanical’ watercolours for a Florida Orchid Society, stage backcloths with a 3inch brush and emulsion paint for various performing groups, and portraits, both highly finished in oils in the studio and with a dozen people peering over my shoulder in pen and ink and sepia wash, in the street. I have exhibited extensively in England, America and Portugal.
What I have always sought is atmosphere and the shimmer of colour and light; the beauty of fine detail and the emotion of the broad sweep. I love the peace of the Dutch interiors, the romanticism of the Pre-Raphaelites and the translucency of Turner. And I change my style with each new series of paintings because I can never capture everything I want in just one way.