During the early 1980s my life was dominated by a round the world business lifestyle. The typical daily cycle was answering phone calls from Los Angeles at 2am, then onto Dubai at 5am. This was always followed by a full day’s work and more, grabbing catnaps and family time when I could. This was my life, whirling around and around, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It had to stop…. and when it did, my body and brain were still on this roller coaster and I couldn’t get off. My friends had moved on, I had been left behind and I felt lonely. I needed to reconnect with people and after some careful planning and thinking, I decided that one way was to begin a weekly part time learning class. This would involve regular contact with new people, which would hopefully enable me to build friendships. It was September and night school terms were just beginning so I went along to enrol.
The teachers sat at desks giving a course and subject overview and answering questions from prospective students, I went up to the nearest teacher and said what do you teach? Drawing she told me and I thought that will do for me. The next person I asked taught “Computers for Beginners. It’s odd don’t you think, that not long afterwards, I would begin a career in the computer industry and then 20 years later I would leave the “rat race” of software development to pursue the professional practice of an artist.
In 1990 while working at Apple, I discovered that most of my colleagues were very committed photographers, who were more than willing to share their expertise, advice, equipment and even their images. Consequently, it was while working at Apple that I began the practice of taking photographs in order to create paintings.
Sometimes I would use them as a straight template but usually I would put my own interpretation on them using more than a little ‘artistic licence’. I began taking multiple photographs of any subject for reference material. I would overexpose photos in order to see into the shadows, concentrate on the details, or underexpose to reveal the detail in the light areas. Other images would record colour, tones, perspectives and dimensions. All these processes enabled me to produce an accurate representation of the subject matter.
My art work carried forward my hobby of painting, using watercolour, bright acrylic paints and oils on canvas. In pursuit of developing the practice, I began a Fine Art degree (BA Hons) and it was through this investigative and experimental learning that I was pushed into challenging new areas. During my degree I would often think about my previous life driving down the motorway to work sitting at a desk, or sitting in yet another meeting and think to myself how lucky I am. After all, here I am creating art on a Monday morning, what could be better? I felt immensely privileged and wanted to record the experience with a photo diary. My camera was a very important part of my degree used to both record the experience and create the experience. And then it became a special tool in my art practise I would photograph every subject and then ask the question “Can I make a project out of this”?
I had always approached my paintings from a variety of perspectives, but my degree gave me the expertise and confidence to explore further, I had previously never thought of building sculpture, but have since had several pieces in various group exhibitions. So why not use different techniques and mediums in order to bring uniqueness, as well as adding value to my work? I continually ask myself questions about how I want to present a piece of art, for example, ‘why can’t a photograph be printed on glass?’, or why can’t it be displayed as a 3D representation?’.
I have had solo art shows at:
Solihull Arts Complex
Number 8, Pershore, Worcestershire
Lee Longlands, Birmingham
Mander Centre, Wolverhampton
I have participated in Group Exhibitions at:
Arts Fest Council House, Birmingham
West Midlands Open Wolverhampton Art Gallery
New Generation Arts Festival Custard Factory, Birmingham
Visual Aston Business School, Birmingham
Virtual Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
Virtual Ernst Young, Birmingham
InCorporate Arts and Business, London
Art Official Light House Media Centre, Wolverhampton
Getty Image artist
Selected for the Arts and Business project Virtual.
Body of work “I Don’t Like Mornings” featured in F-Stop Magazine
Member of The Photography Collective
The collective produced the Orchestra of Disorientation http://vimeo.com/20236127
– A film by The Photography Collective for Format Festival, Derby.
I accidentally found photography as an art form when photographing dumped burnt out cars and it became a very successful project for me. Attending photography group exhibitions and photo collectives I was hearing professionals say “very good John what are you working on now”? I realised I didn’t have a follow up project and more important; I wasn’t a photographer and I needed to learn. So I engaged in learning via college classes and online short YouTube videos. I absorbed it all like a sponge, I took photos, took multiple photos and leant different technics always striving to produce something that was a bit edgy, funny, ironic and different, hoping that it may have that extra, ‘arty’ look. I was, after all coming from a background of a painter where artistic license; colour and tones are a strong component.
A Photo A Day Everyday – 365 Project no restrictions, no exceptions
Famous Strangers or Meet the Real Richard Burton
Coombs Wood Sports and Social Club