I’ve always been able to draw.
Most kids can draw at a very early age. They’ll put together perfectly recognisable pictures of themselves, their family, their house and anything else they can think of. But with most people that ability to create becomes lost and we end up with a large part of the population who say “I can’t draw”.
I’m lucky that I didn’t lose the ability and through my childhood and into my early teens I would draw. I can’t say it was my favourite pastime: I was much more interested in messing about with building electronic gadgets and playing my guitar. But I could always do it. I wasn’t brilliant at it, but if I needed to draw something I could produce a reasonable image.
Then I stopped drawing altogether. All through my twenties I never thought of drawing. I did a degree in computer engineering, went to work as a designer in the computer industry and in my spare time my main hobbies were reading, watching movies and playing guitar. I got a mortgage, got married to the love of my life and had two brilliant boys. Still no drawing. I switched careers and became a further education lecturer teaching computing. Still no drawing.
Then suddenly in about 1995, when I was in my mid-thirties, for no apparent reason I decided to take an art evening class at a local school. It was there that I started to dabble in watercolour painting. Over the next couple of years I did a lot of painting and drawing and filled a few sketchbooks. Then as quickly as I’d started, I just stopped. I switched off from art and went back to my guitar and picked up a new interest: poker.
In 2011 I got the bug again. I happened to see a program on Sky Arts with John Myatt, the ex-art forger who was recreating famous portraits and substituting celebrity faces for the originals. I started painting and drawing again, but this time it was different. This time I recognised my limitations. I wanted to really improve my art skills and I knew there was a lot to learn. The difference now was there was a huge source of knowledge and learning available to me: the internet. I had tutorials, articles and videos to show me how to improve. And there was instant access to a huge array of images that let me look at just about any painting I wanted. I discovered artists I had never known existed, from John Singer Sargent to Joseph Zbukvic. I became like a sponge for art information; I absorbed everything I could about drawing, painting, composition and artists. I used the internet, but I also read every book I could find on the subject and I took life drawing sessions at my local art gallery, Mima. This is where I discovered charcoal.
Last year I decided I needed a change in my working life and I took voluntary redundancy from my job. I decided to devote more time to my art and to trying to sell it. That’s how North View Art Studio came about, and this website, my Etsy shop, my Instagram account and my Pinterest boards.
I’m still drawing and painting, and I’m experimenting with other media like digital and linocut printing. My head’s full of ideas and I can’t see me stopping again.