Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for art:
I’m an outdoor landscape painter which involves painting directly from life on location in the open air or ‘en plein air’, a French term coined by the Impressionists. My passion for art was fostered throughout my education. I did a foundation Fine Art course at Cleveland College of Art and Design, and then went on to do a BA Hons Fine Art Degree at Northampton University.
I moved back to the North East and worked as an Art Technician in a secondary school and decided to take a two year MA in Fine Art at Newcastle University. This allowed me to experiment with my art practice though I ultimately turned back to my first love of drawing and painting after graduating.
I studied for a PGCE in Art and Design Education at Northumbria University and used these teaching skills as an Outreach Officer. After several years of teaching workshops and delivering community projects, I decided to focus on my own art practice again. My wife and I have two young children and I was able to work part-time, look after the children and pursue my passion for oil painting.
I couldn’t afford to rent an expensive studio and also felt that painting indoors didn’t offer enough excitement. I wanted to feel inspired by the places around me and so resolved to work almost exclusively outdoors, working quickly to get some energy and life into my paintings.
Everytime there is something new to take your interest. I love paining at the coast and it’s amazing how water can change its colour and appearance depending on the lighting conditions of the day.
Can you tell us more about the artwork featured on the title page?
This is a plein air painting created during the summer, called Haybales in a Field, Blyth. I’d set up my equipment near a farmer’s field not far from the seafront promenade. I was interested in the familiar sight of haybales sitting in a field, working with the seasons and responding to the subject matter at hand. I also enjoyed the way the light was catching the very tops of the bales and the swirling straw effect, which was painted using a hog bristle brush as it leaves wonderful linear marks through the paint. Showing directional marks of the field and grasses, as well as hedges and a distant church helped provide a bit of context to the scene to tie it all together.
What are you currently working on/planning to work on?
Currently I’m responding to an open call exhibition for Northumberland: Magic and Myth at Woodhorn Museum so am hoping to submit a piece to this in the new year.
I’ve been heading into Northumberland making paintings in which trees play a supporting role to a main subject, as I wanted to capture the changing Autumn colours with the burnt oranges and yellows coming through. With all the rain we’ve been having lately it has made it tricky to paint in oils and I have had to wipe a few boards that haven’t worked. That’s all part of the experience of painting plein air though.
When the Winter arrives, I’m looking forward to painting snow scenes in some of the local parks and families playing in the snow. It’s probably the only time of year when the ground appears as being a lighter value than the sky so it’s an interesting challenge observing and painting the various tints and chromatic whites.
Are there any events/exhibitions upcoming that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m part of the group Winter Art Exhibition at Bistro Du Parc art café in Tynemouth from 22nd November 2019- 6th January 2020. As well as having original plein air oil paintings available on show, I’m also excited to offer limited edition archival quality prints for the first time.
Who is your favourite artist and/or what is your favourite art movement?
My favourite art movement has to be the Impressionists for their painterly brushwork and vivid use of colour. I enjoy Camille Pissarro and British plein air artists like David Curtis ROI RSMA and cityscape painter Peter Brown. I recently saw the work of Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla at the National Gallery in the exhibition Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light. His seascapes and ability to capture light on white fabric in his paintings were truly breathtaking and very inspiring.
When did you become a Friend of the Hatton Gallery and why?
I became a Friend of the Hatton after graduating from Newcastle University in 2007/08 and again in around 2016. I felt having studied on the MA Fine Art course at Newcastle I wanted to continue having a link with the university and supporting the gallery that had displayed my work in the final degree show. It’s a great way to meet fellow artists in Friends of the Hatton and attend exhibitions by members. I think it’s important to be part of and actively support the arts community in Newcastle so that it grows for the benefit of new members and audiences.
What is your favourite part of being a Friend of the Hatton Gallery?
I think it’s great we have access to learning opportunities as part of the group and are able to listen to presentations by staff, artists and lecturers about the exhibitions that the Hatton Gallery showcases. I also think having the opportunity to share your work in group exhibitions is an extremely positive part of being a member as it adds value to the group’s activity as being one that is engaged, active and is a champion for the visual arts to students and the public alike.
You can see more of Stuart’s work on his website.
If you would like to be our Featured Friend in a future issue , please email Tomke at FotHevents@gmail.com