MY PERSONAL ART JOURNEY AND WHY IT’S MUCH MORE FUN NOW !

Posted: 20/10/2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

My personal Art Journey by Martin Stephenson

THE EARLY YEARS

As a child I could always be found with a pencil in my hand, but I guess my first real influences were the ‘modern poster culture’ artists like Andy Warhol. His paintings of toothpaste tubes and cans of drink found me copying his pictures and putting my own ‘take’ on them with things I found around the house. His multi-coloured images of Marylyn Monroe also got my interest.

Image

My love of music and the Music Press of the day like NME (New Musical Express) and Melody Maker found me scaling up those black and white photos of my Rock Heroes like Dylan and Hendrix to put on my bedroom wall.

Image

Image

Later in life and throughout my teenage years I was an avid student, and spent my free time in the Art section of my local library, amongst those books, and later in art shops I was to discover two artists who were to influence my paintings for years to come. They were John Blockley and Ashley Jackson ( we even named my eldest son Ashley). John was to introduce me to mixed media and ink with all those depictions of Welsh cottages and barren windswept trees, which I tried to emulate. Using sticks, quills and pen nibs was a very liberating experience at the time I recall.

ImageImage

Ashley Jackson, an adopted son of my beloved Yorkshire, was famous for his big dark and moody Northern skies, and was a favourite artist of the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. His paintings of the bleak Yorkshire Moors and wet streets were favourite subject of mine, and early on taught me the importance of skies in paintings. As a beginner artist I know that most are afraid of all that paper to cover, and can without a confident approach be intimidating, especially in my chosen medium then of watercolour (aquarelle).

ImageImage

In the meantime, as most artists do I became a fiddler, drawing in the smallest detail, with very fine Rapidograph pens.

All that was about to change though with my next influence (and probably the most important of them all) English Artist Ron Ranson, through his books ‘The Ron Ranson Technique’ and ‘Fast and Loose’ . I still return to his dog eared books from time to time especially when things get a little ‘tight’ !

Image

In his books, he advocated the use of a limited palette and a ‘hake’ brush, very controversial it seemed to me. He also encouraged his students to stand up to paint and also to start on big sheets of cheap paper, so as to be more free and less intimidating. It took me years to find a good hake (a big Japanese wash brush) that didn’t lose its bristles all over my precious paintings, and just recently I acquired a full set of ‘Ron Ranson hakes’ ironically manufactured in Yorkshire.

In one of Ron’s books I think he also mentioned another artist Edward Seago, who had influenced his own work. His coastal Suffolk boat scenes and fresh big skies were another love of mine.

ImageImage

About the same time, again through his books, I discovered another English water-colourist Rowland Hilder, a traditional watercolour painter and member of the prestigious Royal Watercolour Society (RWS). His Kentish scenes of Oast Houses and the like were much copied by me, and his handling of big skies was a pure joy. I even had the privilege to appear at my first Exhibition at the Winter Gardens in Ilkley in the same room as  full sheet original of a Rowland Hilder painting it was breath-taking.

ImageImage

Fast forward about 40 years, and after personal tragedy, the loss of my younger Sister Julie, I decided to live my life, not waiting for retirement to fulfil my ambition to become an artist. So I ‘ up sticks’ and moved to Bulgaria. So here we are, still trying to emulate my heroes, still trying to avoid overworked muddy paintings. Still a watercolour ‘purist’, still learning my trade, and still trying to be accepted by my peers. I always wanted to have ‘artist’ as my occupation on my passport, but sadly they don’t do that anymore. It was about this time that I tried to recall everything I had read (mainly as my memory was fading, and to remind me in later life) and to write my first book, an e-book called ‘Watercolours for Beginners’.

Image

Through friends Geoff and Cath Taylor, who live in my sleepy Bulgarian Village, and quite by accident, I stumbled into teaching, out of necessity really, which gave me the freedom and time to paint nearly every day. Those early influences of pen and ink and pop art never left me though, and neither did the ‘restrictions’ of pure watercolour. This was all about to change forever though, with the advent of the internet. Suddenly everything was ‘out there’ just click on any artist on google images and you will see what I mean.

Image

Through it I discovered two artists David Poxon, a watercolour artist, who’s depiction of rusty machinery, were a favourite subject matter of mine. But the second was to have the biggest influence of them all. He was an Australian artist called John Lovett who I came across on the internet.

Image

Here was an artist unafraid of dogma and rules. A MIXED MEDIA ARTIST shock horror ! Through his books and DVD at last I was free to do anything I wanted, using anything that came to hand. Strange stuff like Gesso, Acrylic and Goache found me like a kid in a sweet shop, at my local art store in Burgas. Decoupage, Collage it was all there to be discovered and ‘played with’ !

Image

Image

It was a liberating moment watching his youtube video’s before I managed to get my hands on his other stuff, ordering from as far afield as the USA and Australia. Strangely he also uses hakes in his work, just like my first hero, Ron Ranson.

Image

Lots more artists have influenced me along the way and I share some of their work here now including Sargeant, Wyeth, Turner, the list continues to grow…….

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

I remain, above all an art lover, and like the kids I teach, eyes wide open, I am like a sponge just soaking up all those influences, and continuing to grow

So that’s the story, but hopefully just the start. I have lived in many places, and travelled the World teaching in exotic locations like Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali, Thailand and Malaysia. But my regret was not to have been painting whilst I lived in Beautiful Yorkshire and in Scotland and visiting holiday destinations throughout Europe including Paris and Venice. Now other locations seem to be opening up like Russia, Romania, Turkey and Greece and who knows, maybe my travelling days aren’t over yet, and even though it doesn’t say artist on my passport, who knows where the future will lead me on my fantastic art journey.

MY ART AND MY TEACHING ARE MY PASSPORTS !

Comments
  1. Cath says:

    Love your blog Martin,very intresting reading.Cath

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s