First encounters: Aged eight in the mid 1960's I drew a cartoon which was published in The Beezer comic. My prize was a four string Beatles guitar decorated with images of the 'fab four' in all their glory. Thus began a lifelong preoccupation with guitars, the written word and more importantly Art. I was no budding Picasso, my early offerings, like my guitar playing, were discordant and jarring on the senses, yet were, as I remember it, encouraged by my parents.
A couple of years later I was able to upgrade my four string guitar for a six string semi acoustic for the cost of ten Woodbines cigarettes from a cousin who had just come out of the navy. At about the same time I had a visit to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and experienced 'art' outside of books for the first time. I remember writing an essay at school about the artwork that I'd seen. My dabbling at home was mainly done in pencil while painting was restricted to meagerly doled out powder paints on grey sugar paper at school.
Creative opportunities along with art facilities and cultural visits increased in secondary school and I had a few encouraging second's and third's in school competitions, but my embryonic expressionist style usually failed to convince the judges of my prowess.
Like most teenagers I became obsessive about music and in these pre-punk days of the early 1970's I remember producing mountains of scratchy, badly rendered drawings and paintings covered in really bad poetry and expletives. The quest was to try and encapsulate my teenage anger in these works. I suppose that in a way they did give me the opportunity to vent my frustrations albeit in paper, pencil and paint. I'm sure that if they still existed I would find the untutored renderings embarrassing and probably intensely old fashioned.
At fifteen I discovered Van Gogh (of course I was aware of his work prior to this) After all, what more could an adolescent artist look for in a hero; misunderstood, impecunious and so tortured he died for his art! Inspired I saved my money, bought my first set of oil paints, brushes and some canvas boards from W H Smiths, found an old Sunday school easel in the barn and on a summer day in 1973 I set off into the hay fields behind our house, one particular image by the maestro in my mind.
(The Painter on His Way to Work, 1888 by Van Gogh)