Notes on the Artist

For the last ten years I have lived on a ten-acre smallholding called Trewen Cottage in North Cornwall with my wife Angela. We keep bees and chickens and have a veggie garden and orchard and some of the year we even look after our son’s heifers. Trewen is about a half hour drive from the coast, which is pretty handy because the beautiful Cornish coast provides the inspiration and subject matter for most of my painting.

I paint in watercolour and when I can, I paint outdoors. I love the challenge of working directly from nature and I always take my fisherman’s tent with me for shelter. I did heaps of camping with my family when my kids were younger and the two enthusiasms work well together.

My father worked in the Marine Craft Section of the RAF on the rescue launches and when I was five he was posted to Penang and we all followed a few months later by ship. I loved Penang, and as a kid I was completely entranced and exited by the ‘strangeness’ of the place, the rambutans and sugar cane and monkeys in the jungle behind the bungalow. 

My father worked in the Marine Craft Section of the RAF on the rescue launches and when I was five he was posted to Penang and we all followed a few months later by ship. I loved Penang, and as a kid I was completely entranced and exited by the ‘strangeness’ of the place, the rambutans and sugar cane and monkeys in the jungle behind the bungalow. 

I taught myself to paint after leaving Hull University. I say I taught myself; what I actually did was to look at the work of really great watercolour artists like Turner and Sargent and try to work out how the hell they managed to produce such beauty with so little. More significantly, I painted pretty much every day and kept an obsessive record of what worked and what didn’t – I just carried right on, doggedly making every mistake you can make until I only had to tear up two out of ten pictures instead of nine.

After University I had a youthful, romantic notion that I would paint my way around the world and I was young and stupid enough to try (pause for my parent’s sigh). I jetted off to Oz with my (then) partner in hope, and we spent 18 months in Balmain, Sydney. I painted a lot around the old docks (where there were still one or two very lovely tall-masted ships) and gradually my paintings improved and I managed to sell my work.

Eventually, the choice was to either use our savings to buy a house in Balmain, or to splurge the lot and make the long trip back to the UK overland. You’re only young once, so we chose the latter. Bali was wonderful and relatively unspoiled back then, Japan was utterly confusing with no English signs, and on the Trans Siberian Railway I learned to loath Borsch and silver birch in equal measure. By the time we got back to the UK my career in HR was lost in the rear view mirror and I decided to stay with my proto-career as a fulltime professional artist.

By the time I was doing my A levels my father was working in Cyprus and one summer holiday, he decided it would be a great idea to hire some donkeys and walk round Cyprus (well actually across Cyprus, from Limassol where we lived, over the mountains to Kyrenia and then east along the coast and back again). It is worth noting that the Greeks and Turks were at war during this time and our route took us right through their front lines! I'm the skinny one in the middle. 

By the time I was doing my A levels my father was working in Cyprus and one summer holiday, he decided it would be a great idea to hire some donkeys and walk round Cyprus (well actually across Cyprus, from Limassol where we lived, over the mountains to Kyrenia and then east along the coast and back again). It is worth noting that the Greeks and Turks were at war during this time and our route took us right through their front lines! I'm the skinny one in the middle. 

Since then I have spent almost forty years painting in Devon and Cornwall. I have exhibited widely and have galleries that show my work in Salcombe, Kingsbridge and Totnes. My work has been exhibited by the Royal Watercolour Society at the South Bank in London. I have been commissioned commissioned twice by Devon Council, once to do a painting for the late President Mitterrand of France when he visited Dartmouth and once to do a painting of Slapton Beach, which was presented to the French to commemorate the D-Day Landings. I also teach watercolour at local art societies and have tutored on several art holidays in Tuscany and the Channel Islands.

I often wonder how things would have turned out if we had bought that house in Balmain. I like to think I would still be painting, but I guess you just never know…