Early Days

Hi, find out how I made art my living.

The current Idols exhibition in the gallery has taken me back to my first paintings in the 1960s.

I don’t recall the exact age when I first discovered my talent for drawing and painting, but one particular memory stands out from when I was around fifteen. It was during that time that I gained popularity among the girls in my school due to my ability to create striking watercolour portraits of popular singers of the era.

My art teacher, recognising my potential, came up with the idea that I could offer portrait services during lunch breaks, charging a shilling per portrait and using the earnings to invest in better art materials. However, much to his surprise, the demand was solely for free paintings of The Beatles, and his plans to fund art class supplies fell through.

I then decided I would buy a sketch book and paint portraits on each page, Lulu, Nancy Sinatra, Roy Orbison plus The Beatles etc. The plan was to fill the book, but then I left school and started an apprenticeship at Bakelite Plastics. Then I turn 18 and found other interests, girls and pubs. I forgot all about the book until years later after my parents had died I found it again in a drawer in my mam’s council bungalow where she had kept it. That book is now on display in our gallery and Lynn has created some great prints from it.

Reflecting on my early days, I remember an incident when I painted an enormous 8ft mural of The Beatles on a wall in our house. My wife to be couldn’t believe that my Mam had let me do this on the living room wall.

During my childhood, I had enjoyed watching my Uncle Arthur as he skillfully brought World War Two scenes to life through his pencil drawings. It was he that inspired me to take up drawing, and encouraged me to start painting.

I won my first art show when the local cinema (The Hippodrome) had an Easter Art Competition. The prize was an Easter egg which I unwillingly had to share with some older lads who met me on the way home. I never bothered entering any more competitions just to give it away to someone else.