I was born in 1969, the youngest of five children and grew up on a council estate in Leicester. It was a happy childhood. From an early age I was able to draw. My mother and father were both creative people but in other trades. My mother was a hairdresser. She had a strong visual ability that allowed her to foresee how something should look before starting the task in hand; an essential pre-requisite for any artist. My father built models for a hobby. Endless hours in his shed making anything from boats and planes to landscapes and houses. He was more of a dreamer and I think this is of course something that I also have in me.
Once I graduated in ‘Illustration’ at Art College I worked for various art galleries. I then turned professional in 1996 and have achieved much success since then. I was awarded ‘Best Up and Coming Artist’ in 1999, ‘Best Selling Artist in the UK’ in 2000 and have been nominated three times for ‘Best Published Artist’ in 2001, 2002 and 2003. I have also lectured at several Art Colleges across the Midlands.
It seemed whilst growing up that my parents lived for holidays by the sea. In the early days Dad would pack the tent and cases on the roof rack. When they bought a caravan and we used it as much as possible. It was from these holidays that I not only developed my love of travelling but my obsession with the English coast.
Although since then I’ve travelled to many countries, nothing surpasses my love of Cornwall. When I’m not there I think a lot about the last time I was. Its atmosphere and mood forms the backdrop to my work.
Many English artists have inspired me. Most recently the geometric compositions of C.R.W Nevinson and Paul Nash. The artists` colony of St Ives has been a great influence too. Here I discovered the naïve work of Alfred Wallis who in turn influenced Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood.
The birth of my son has changed the way I paint. At the moment I look after him whilst my wife works. I used to execute a painting in one go, preferring its spontaneity, but now my working process is more considered. The whole thing takes much longer to complete but this has had a very positive effect. By slowing the whole process down, I have become far more critical and I won’t move on to the next stage until totally satisfied.
I sketch out the basic composition using a sketchbook where I also note down any ideas or titles that may stimulate a composition. Once I begin the painting I work as if building a jigsaw puzzle starting in one area, completing that before moving on to the next. Over the following days the image takes shape, sometimes I may change the narrative elements that provide the story within the picture if I feel the need. When completed I like to live with the image for a day or two in case I want to make any changes. When totally satisfied I title, sign and then apply the varnish.
My young son dictates when we rise, usually around 6am. Fortunately for us he sleeps well during the day and I use this time to paint. I used to have a studio but now work from home out of necessity. In the past I used to work from nine until five, five days a week but now I’m more relaxed about painting. I paint when I want to and so find that I enjoy it a lot more. Again, this has helped me to create what is in my opinion my best work to date. It’s not forced or pushed because I need to paint but because I want to paint.
Having been a painter for many years now, I’ve begun to realise one goes through a series of creative phases linked to where you are within your own life. I’m just pleased that finally I’ve arrived at a place where everything has come together both personally and professionally. I think you can see that in the work.