Back in the 1970’s my childhood was mainly spent squirrelled away in my bedroom drawing and painting the various characters who inhabited my comics. My desire to go to art college was firmly curtailed by the fact that I left school with a rebellious streak and zero qualifications. School and I were not happy bedfellows. It was all a bit like Kes, but without the kestrel.
In the early 1980’s I bought myself a copy of ‘Signwork – A Craftsman’s Manual’ by Bill Stewart and, accompanied by a healthy dose of naivety and an overwhelming desire to absorb every single word of said tome, I proceeded to teach myself signwriting. It was all a bit like Kes, but without the kestrel.
I discovered I actually had a flair for my new found vocation and after spending a while honing my craft I began a new chapter in my life as a self-employed signwriter and muralist. Unfortunately all good things come to end and this was most certainly the case for traditional signwriting with the onset of computerised vinyl lettering which meant customers could have sticky plastic lettering stuck on the side of their van or shopfront for a fraction of the price charged by a craftsman.
Fast forward many years and, although still occasionally feeding the urge to create art, I now had more important things to feed, namely a wife and children. Fortunately the business that I’d created with my wife had rapidly grown from a market stall into warehousing and exporting across most of Europe. Things weren’t so Kes any more.
Naturally the fickle hand of fate is always ready to give you a right good clout when you least expect it and so it did when my wife died suddenly at just 50 years old. No need to dwell on the devastation that this caused but, suffice to say, it was during this time that I decided life was indeed too short and I was going to spend the rest of my days doing what I loved, namely painting. I sold my business, set-up a studio at home and shut the door on the rest of the world.
My early work was very much a throwback to my signwriting days with paintings in a pop art style and containing graphic elements and carefully crafted lettering. This eventually gave way to the unique style we now see as I trained my brain away from the regimentation of signwriting into art that was far looser and less reliant on perfection and straight lines and precise perspective. I have a great admiration for many artists and in particular the works of Van Gogh (of course), Alfred Wallis, Gerard Dillon, Simon Quadrat, Otto Dix and Ilya Volykhine amongst numerous others. For various reasons, each of these artists have inspired me to visualise and achieve the unique voice that I now exhibit.
The most important thing for me as an artist is to try and create paintings with real narrative and meaning. Paintings that connect with the viewer on an emotional level.
- W. Stubbs