Give me a brush and I’ll tell you a story

Give me a brush and I’ll tell you a story

Back in the eighties and nineties I became quite a prolific artist by accident really. I’d not long left the Royal Navy and financially things were quite tough; I was a fair illustrator and having a wife and three little daughters I needed to subsidise my income.

I began working for the regional press in the East Midlands of England and had work syndicated by London Express News and others but the pressure of deadlines was exhausting. Eventually I think the mantra ‘Is life art or is art life?’ took it’s toll and my work became too therapeutic as I went through a period of reflection. I became obsessive, addicted to manically reading everything written about Vincent Van Gogh and generally evolved into a very unpleasant character. It got to the point where I stopped painting and drawing after my last exhibition in 1995 (Journey’s End) vowing never to go up that road again.

It was during my artistic sabbatical that I found out even more unpleasant things about my self as I engaged in other things (music, chess); I was obsessive to the worst degree. I don’t think I’ve ever allowed anyone to beat me at chess – needless to say I don’t play any more.

One of the great things about getting older and getting to know yourself is that you do become wiser. Whether you actually use your wisdom to enrich your life is a personal choice but I like to think that (coupled with my faith) I do make the effort. My foster mother Katie was a great one for trying to keep my feet on the ground when I was a child; when I announced that I wanted to join the Navy she would bend the old song ‘I joined the Navy to see the world…’ into ‘I joined the Navy so the world could see me…’.

In recent weeks, readers will know that I have been asked to produce six paintings for the bedrooms in the children’s home where I work and I can’t deny that I was initially horrified at the thought. The very idea of even looking at a paint brush threw my mind back into darker days on top of which I wasn’t even sure if I still had the skills or the stamina after such a long time. But once I’d begun sketching out a few ideas, keeping my focus on what the pictures were for, I’m finding the experience to be quite cathartic. The memory of my revisiting the dreadful kids home (at the age of 50) where I was raised and finding that it was now a beautifully decorated family centre reinforces my inspiration and I get quite excited at the idea that I already have the collection mapped out in my head; of course I also get frustrated because like most people I want to see them all on canvas NOW.

So if I tend to be a bit arty in my forthcoming blogs at least you have something of a background as to why. My current commission will probably last till Christmas, if not beyond, and if I have anything to show you that I think you may like to see I’ll post it. Meanwhile some of my art can be found here on my website; it’s on my bucket list that when I retire (in 920 days) to go through my collections (thousands of pieces), clean them up and show them to the world.

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