Maybe you can relate…
I was born and spent my very earliest years in London in the grey post-war years. We were lucky to soon be able to get away from the smog and traffic and had moved to the countryside by the time I was eight. I was always fascinated by nature and spent much time wandering around out in the fields that surrounded our village. Each day when I walked to school I would pay more attention to the hedgerows and plants which grew along the lanes than to chatting with my peers. Once at school, my favourite lessons were art and craft. But as I grew up I found I wanted more than anything to travel and experience as much of life as possible. For this reason I gave up the idea of becoming an artist and had many different jobs, and lived in many different countries.
But all along the way my hobby was watercolor painting, which supported me emotionally through thick and thin.
I am a “self-taught” painter. I taught myself to paint from books and from the occasional course I was able to attend. In those days the possibilities for learning were limited to evening classes, residential holidays and in later years, video tapes that you could buy at great cost and watch and rewatch. I didn’t have much money for any of these, and so books were my greatest resource.
I have a debt of gratitude therefore to my “teachers”, who primarily included David Bellamy, John Blockley, Ron Ranson and Roland Hilder. From them I learnt the traditional landscape techniques. Other influential painters for me were Hazel Soan, Ann Blockley and Pat Weaver, who introduced me to the idea of using strong contrast and powerful colors in paintings.
I don‘t think of myself as an Artist with a capital A. If I had to label myself I would prefer to be called a Crafter or a Creator of Things, because painting is not the only thing that interests me. Since early childhood I have felt drawn to “making things” and have tried my hand at most traditional craft occupations. At one time or another I have learnt pottery, glass working, weaving, spinning, carving, knitting, embroidery, dressmaking, appliqué and patchwork, crochet, paper making, bookbinding, calligraphy, collage, furniture upholstery and painting, decoupage, picture framing, basketry, candle making, soap making, hand cream making … the list seems endless! But in the end one always comes back to watercolor and its many possibilities.
I married in the 1970s and had two children, a son James, and a daughter, Tamsin. While we were living in Canada she graduated in engineering from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario and later she became a science teacher in England. Together in 2004 we created a tuition centre where we taught Maths and English to children who were falling behind at school.
The idea of going online and teaching something which people really wanted to learn, watercolor painting, came to us like a gift from God. We started the channel the year of Covid, experimentally, before the lockdown. Then we forgot about it as Covid took hold. When the dust settled after closing our bricks and mortar business, we realised that the channel had begun to take off.
The rest is history.
So we work together each day in as cooperative a way as possible. We have a large property in France with sheep and chickens to look after, as well as a vegetable garden, and Tamsin does most of this work now. In addition she does all the bureaucratic management for the business and for our life here. Living in the 21st century is more complex than it ought to be! She also creates the videos from the raw footage I give her and manages all the social media and our website.
My job is to have ideas for the videos and paint and film them for you. This is a continuous process, as no sooner is one video made than another needs to be planned, tried out, developed and finally filmed. This is all a great pleasure to me. My other job is managing the kitchen, where I produce daily two vegetarian meals for all three of us entirely from scratch – we buy no prepared meals at all, as I have various food sensitivities which preclude me from eating “normally”! This of course takes up a good bit of time.
Finally we have five adorable cats and four dogs who we all love to bits and who need and demand a certain amount of care and attention. They are always there for us if we need a hug!
Thanks for reading this far, and again, welcome to our little world!