After studying painting, illustrating and, secretly, double bass playing at Southampton College of Art, I decided to move to London to earn a living, which I supported by playing bass in London Jazz bands. I did this for the next ten years illustrating more than two hundred children’s books, a number of which I have also written.
After marrying my wife Jill, a fellow art student from Southampton, we moved back to Hampshire with our two boys Tim and Tobin. It was here that I started up both an art gallery and a judo club. I am very interested in martial arts and have been studying judo since I was fourteen. Although I was freelancing in illustration and painting, I became much more interested in painting since running the gallery. It was around this time when I met John Stobart, a marine painter, who was emigrating to America to set up a gallery. A year later I joined him to study painting and run his gallery for him in Boston, and for the next four years I painted and exhibited along the East Coast galleries of the United States.
Upon returning to England I continued with my painting and one of my paintings ‘Small Cat In Large Dog’s Bed’ was voted ‘best painting’ at an exhibition, having several buyers after it. Due to its popularity I made a limited edition print of the painting, which I showed to Washington Green. Upon seeing the print they asked me to join their portfolio of artists and I have been working with them ever since.
A painting will start with either a sketch or something I’ve just seen, like a cat sitting in a doorway or looking at me through the kitchen window. I start with a rough sketch on layout paper, correcting as I go. This may mean sticking paper over a much-corrected area and re-drawing until it seems right. Sometimes if the corrections get too thick I may have to copy the rough and continue working on that, building up the drawing until it seems finished. This will be transferred to watercolor paper. I use Saunders Waterford 300gms or if I’m feeling extravagant Aquarelle Arches rough 640gms 100% cotton. These are then taped to a drawing board. I draw in pencil and begin coloring in watercolor; thinly at first, gradually getting thicker until the right tone is reached. I may
add some pastel if I’ve got too heavy or even gouache, or, if all has not gone to plan, acrylic. Some paintings I have to abandon altogether because they have gone out of control and have to be thrown away. There is an unhealthily large pile of these! At the end of the day I take the board with the painting on downstairs from the studio, and put it on an easel I have in the sitting room. Then, the cats, my wife and I sit back and criticize it. By the next day I will have decided if it needs any alteration and will continue with this until I feel, either I, or the painting is finished.