I had an unconventional rural childhood in west Cornwall as a member of a highly artistic family. My mother, Biddy Picard, is a well-known artist who painted and exhibited into her late 80s.
I showed artistic ability at a young age, winning a regional art competition even whilst at primary school. I was very much an ‘outdoor kid’ and my friends and I seemed to spend half our lives in the countryside, along the foreshore, or out at sea in our small ‘punts’; I loved birds and would watch them for hours.
My father was in forestry in North Wales and throughout childhood and as a young man I frequently visited the family in Snowdonia, where the Welsh mountain landscape and time spent with trees and woodlands made a deep, lasting impression on me.
I studied various aspects of the earth sciences at university rather than fine art. Much of my subsequent life has been spent working out-doors and probably because of this the natural environment is my main inspiration.
Currently I work mainly in oil or soft pastel, often using the latter for small outside studies, some of which are later developed as large oils. I travel a good deal and always take pastels, not only for their convenience but also because of the subtle atmospheric effects one can get with them. Occasionally I use oil pastel if I’m more interested in bold, bright colours than subtlety, and charcoal or graphite when I’m concerned with pattern and tone rather than colour.
My work varies enormously in scale and focus and whilst I enjoy making small detailed studies of nature – say a feather or a leaf, I also love to try to capture the huge sweep of a sky, or bare landscape, with little or no detail and most of the emphasis on atmosphere.
Born: Mousehole, Cornwall 1950
BSc University of Newcastle
MSc University of Sheffield
PhD University of Newcastle