The Artist - a biopic

Although I have enjoyed drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, I chose to follow an academic rather than an artistic career. A lifelong interest in wildlife, the countryside and in conservation brought me to Lochalsh in 1972 as an employee of The National Trust for Scotland in Balmacara and Kintail.

The landscapes and coastal scenery of the West Highlands and of the Hebrides are truly inspirational, even if the weather is often challenging. The play of light on land and water can be dramatic, producing an intensity of colour that has to be seen to be believed. The constantly changing weather, the nuances of the shifting seasons and the daily movements of the tides provide a boundless source of subject matter in the environs of Plockton, but I take every opportunity to travel and to paint throughout the region.
Some of my work combines figurative and landscape compositions, whilst I do occasionally focus entirely on the human figure.
Another favourite subject is the little fleet of sailing dinghies of the Plockton Small Boat Sailing Club. These are clinker-built, traditional west coast boats and they are a colourful sight during the summer sailing season in Plockton.

My preferred medium is oils and I enjoy painting out of doors whenever possible, although work is usually completed in the studio. I also paint with acrylics, exploiting the rapid drying qualities of this medium. However, this makes it impractical for outdoor use, even when applied impasto.

As an experienced hill-walker with an interest in geology and geomorphology, I regard it as important to accurately portray landscape features and there is, too, the added satisfaction of having walked upon most of the hills I paint. My aim is not photorealism, however, but for those who know them my subjects should be clearly recognisable. Since childhood, I have admired the works of the late J. McIntosh Patrick and of the French Impressionists, especially Monet and Pissarro. Their genre painting has been the greatest influence on my own work.

In recent years we have holidayed in Southern France and I delight in painting en plein air the colourful landscapes and villages of Northern Provence, especially around Mont Ventoux and Les Dentelles de Montmirail. Unlike the West Highlands, here the weather can usually be relied upon, permitting a return to the same subject and similar light conditions day after day, should that be necessary. However, I do consider that, at its best, the light in the West Highlands easily rivals that of Provence.