Friday, 21 November 2014

A Life time of learning

I often get asked, "Who taught you to paint?"

A simple question maybe but one without a simple answer. From an early age I drew and painted. It ran in the family and we had a good collection of paintings which I could refer to. That collection has now been broken up but it was probably an invaluable influence. My brother is also an artist but he did have the patience to teach, something that I find hard to do.

 I used to go to exhibitions in Birmingham as I grew up seeing anything from Salvador Dahli to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. More particularly I would spend hours in the Birmingham Museum and Gallery looking at the  marvellous collection of pre-Raphaelite works. My influences and grounding was varied but deep.

I have got a degree in fine art but I was not taught anything about actually painting during that degree course. It was more about the history and theory of art. There were practical sessions in ceramics and printing which I enjoyed. Fortunately I could paint to an acceptable standard before in any case.

I spent some time with a very accomplished artist who is a member of the Royal Portrait Society who was extremely knowledgeable and fine tuned my painting.

Learning to paint is a continuous process and reading books on classical artists, colour, techniques, light, mixing hues are all subjects that are essential to the artist.

I always analise my work and consider how I would paint it if I had to paint it again to improve it.
I spend time looking at other artists work examining how they obtained a certain effect or how they chose a composition.

 I have bought paintings of artists to examine them in depth. Over the years I have had a collection of good quality paintings of 19th and early 20th century artists which I chose on the basis of their workmanship.
By choosing carefully I bought nothing for more than £70 and found they were all listed artists. I no longer have them having passed them on or in the case of one painting I have literally taken it apart. I scrapped the layers of paint back to understand the construction of the painting. Regrettable for it was a nice painting but the information gained was invaluable to me. The painting is shown above by Clive Brown who was an impressionist from Norfolk who has paintings in the National Collection.

Of course if you are not painting you are not learning so continuous work is also essential. I liken it to a boiling kettle you have to keep feeding the fire.

So at the end of the day I am self taught over 50+ years  I guess, with a little help from my friends and family.

Link  Beatles

Incidentally I have only ever bought one painting from a living artist, David Cowdrey. That gives you some idea of the esteem in which I hold his work.

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