I cannot ever remember a time when I did not want to be an artist.
My father was a painter and stone carver so I grew up with paintings and drawings all around me. Drawings from the nude were quite usual although often not from particularly glamorous models. When I was quite young I remember our garden looking like a mini Roman villa where dad had used marble offcuts from commissions, and carved various odd things that were dotted around the place.
I left school at sixteen to go to art school, the Sir John Cass School of Art and get started on a full-time education in art. I knew that Percy Horton had begun to teach there after retiring from the Ruskin in Oxford and he proved to be a major influence on my early life in painting and drawing.
In those days the Cass had a large contingent of part-time students of a huge range of ages. Here I mixed with professional group of often high achievers but as art students we were all in the same boat. This was a great leveller. Under Percy’s tutoring I developed my draftsmanship at great speed and also the wonderful insight into the work of the great masters he gave me. His reputation as a teacher was, and indeed still is, legendary.
After two years at the Cass I went on to the City and Guilds School of Art for four years. After a scholarship to Florence, to draw, I then went to the Royal College of Art for three years. As a good friend of mine often says this was a ‘baptism by fire’.
The staff at that time were also legendary and very supportive, but as a figurative painter you really had to stand your ground against the other students. In those days, the staff were amongst the best painters in the country and were instrumental in getting you started in professional life. This was something I have always been very grateful for.
During my life as a painter I have been consistently occupied with working from life in the form of portraits, landscapes and figure compositions. To be involved with objective painting and drawing over a good many years has been perennially exciting, demanding and rewarding. I have always maintained that if an artist has a stick of charcoal and a piece of paper there is nothing that separates us from a Renaissance artist or even further back. This is a wonderful endorsement of how painting and drawing have always been, and always will be, a significant part of our cultural heritage.