I was born, and have lived all my life, in Leigh-on-Sea. I was educated at Chalkwell Hall and Belfairs High Schools but only discovered I could paint in my early thirties. I don’t recall being taught anything about the theory, practices or history of art whilst at school; it was the Sixties, curriculums were very different and the materials were rather rudimentary (powder paints, big blobby brushes and wax crayons) and of questionable quality, so I guess I wasn’t engaged or inspired.
That changed whilst studying for professional qualifications within the confines of Civil Service College in Sunningdale. There is very limited scope for artistic interpretation in internal audit and management and my somewhat latent but starved creative side began screaming for an outlet. So, on one occasion, I took away a box of my Grandfather’s watercolours stuff and, after studying myself half to death, I began put pencil and brush to paper. It was like waking up and finding I could fly!
I started entering the Essex Open Exhibitions and was surprised to get all three of my entries excepted on the first attempt. On another occasion, I had an entry awarded “Best Painting - as voted by the Visiting Public”. This was followed by two solo exhibitions at the Beecroft Art Gallery, and a joint one at Leigh Library, with Sheila Appleton, celebrating its 60th Anniversary. I have also won a number awards for paintings entered into Civil Service art competitions.
However, success in achieving my professional qualifications resulted in offers of promotions in the Civil Service, and the need to maintain a steady job to support bringing up a family, left limited time for painting. But, after a career spanning 45 years, encompassing eight Government Departments and a number of different disciplines and roles (none of them in any way art-related), I have recently taken early retirement and I can now concentrate on painting.
I’m entirely self-taught, which has enabled me to develop a fairly unique style, and I work mainly in watercolours. I find it very accessible, immediate and versatile, ideal for detail and it seems so quintessentially English. Yes, it can be an unforgiving medium and some say it requires lots of forethought and planning but I tend to paint intuitively, for the love of it and for where it takes me. I’m somewhere else when I paint, I’m not conscious of what I’m doing, it simply flows from the brush and the heart. And Leigh provides such a perfect subject; it’s full of character, history and atmosphere, the lighting is fantastic and contrasting throughout the year.
I use my own photos for reference purposes during the initial stages of a painting but, once I’ve completed a detailed sketch and am happy with the composition, the rest is completed from memory or imagination. With more time on my hands, I plan to experiment with acrylics and oils, and explore some different styles and techniques.
I live in Chalkwell, with my wife, Charlotte, and three cats (Cheshire, Brie and Kafka). I’m fortunate to have a south-facing back garden, which overlooks the estuary, which gives me bags of good lighting, plenty of peace and inspiration.
My three children and their husbands, together with my seven grandchildren, also live in and around Leigh. I’ve travelled extensively throughout the country and around the world for pleasure and during my career; I’ve yet to find a place where I’d rather be.