HOW DID YOU GET INTO ART AND MAKING?
I was good at art in school but had to choose between art and German language, chose German and never used it! Became a draughtsman in 1981 when we still used pencil and paper. Was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1989 and started drawing again to help me through the day.
WHAT ART DO YOU LIKE TO MAKE?
Portraits of people and any animal – I love a challenge
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU USE?
Pastel, pencil and charcoal
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
A self taught artist
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES AND INFLUENCES YOUR WORK?
I really like the challenge of capturing a likeness in a portrait, especially older people’s faces – they looked lived in and have had a lot of experiences, you can see happiness and sadness in peoples eyes and expressions. John Singer Sargent has inspired me with his attention to detail, everything looks so natural.
HOW HAVE YOU AND YOUR WORK CHANGED OVER TIME?
Originally I worked in watercolour painting old weavers cottages. They were good but I wanted to paint something which was striking and stopped people in their tracks. When my daughter bought me some pastel pencils I decided to have a go at portrait painting/drawing and found I could get a likeness with pets and people. This spurred me on to research the art of portraiture and I am well and truly hooked.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED ALONG THE WAY?
I work 9-5pm in housing support, so by the time I have got home, walked the dog, sorted tea, and eaten tea, it can be hard to pick up the pastels and continue working on portraits. I now have an area in the back bedroom to use just for my artwork. Previously I would work in the dining room, however that was a pain because of setting up and tidying up at the end of sessions.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT/S SO FAR? NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL?
In 2016, I entered a portrait of my father in the Huddersfield Art Society Exhibition and won an award for best painting by a first time exhibitor.
HOW DID IT FEEL TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACHIEVEMENT?
This was very poignant because my father passed away in November 2015. Dad saw the portrait before he died and was really pleased with it. I am very proud and get emotional when thinking of his portrait hanging at the exhibition.
WHAT DIFFICULTIES, DOUBTS OR FEARS DID YOU FACE AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I have had what I thought to be too many commissions and not enough time to complete them. Following a discussion at a Barnsley ‘Crafty Biz’ support group meeting, they suggested that I should be honest and tell people that portraits would take a certain amount of time. Much to my surprise everyone understood and my stress levels quickly dropped.
WHAT OR WHO HAS HELPED YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY?
I have always encouraged and accepted criticism, sometimes I tell people that I am struggling to get a certain part of the portrait right, and asking their opinion. You don’t have to take it but somebody else looking from a different perspective might just solve a problem. Fellow artists like to be asked their opinion and this has helped to forge strong friendships along the way, to the point that I am often given advice without being asked.
IF SOMEONE COULD WAVE A MAGIC WAND AND MAKE AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN FOR YOU, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM?
I have a mental picture of my dream studio, and me painting in it every day as a full time artist.
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