Born in Oxfordshire, brought up in Gloucestershire, I graduated from University College Swansea (as it then was) in 1980.
My home is in Pembrokeshire, just a short walk from the Saint Brides Bay coastline.
I contend that Living By The Sea is a full-time occupation, considering that my surroundings inspire my fiction writing, my poetry, my art, and my work promoting renewable energy; were I forced to confess a hobby, I would plump for beachcombing - notwithstanding that Amateur Dramatics take up a lot of my time in the winter months!
What inspires me?
The short answer is - Nature generally, the Pembrokeshire coastline and its weather in particular, friends and acquaintances both near and far, and my garden.
A longer answer would have to include (not in order)... Daphne Du Maurier, especially Frenchman's Creek; Little Feat; In The Place Of Fallen Leaves; Summer in February; A High Wind In Jamaica; The Railway Children; Arthur Ransome (of course!); Paul Gallico (you can guess which ones); Dylan Thomas; The Rolling Stones; Radios 3, 4, and 4Extra; The scents of timbers and of linseed oil; the Newlyn School artists...
How much formal art training did I have?
Art was a favourite subject; however, school policy meant banishment from the Art Room at the age of 13, once "they" decided I would take O level Physics and Chemistry (despite my being useless at Stinks - but that's another story).
On moving to Bristol in the early 1980s I enrolled for Life Drawing evening classes: my skills and confidence improved; also, Bristol and Bath are great cities for art enthusiasts who are keen to learn, because there are so many public and commercial galleries. Then, in 1989, I went on a residential painting holiday at Inniemore, Isle of Skye... After which, I stopped being a refrigeration design engineer for about 18 months, and painted full-time.
During that period, two factors brought me on hugely:
- JUST GETTING ON WITH IT, day after day, often outdoors, sometimes regardless of the weather;
- attending ALL DAY LIFE SESSIONS, one of which offered DAY-LONG POSES, run by Filton College (as was) at what were originally the Royal West of England Academy Schools in Clifton: big high-ceilinged studios with beautiful North Light. The "old hand" artists at the day-long sessions pretty much bullied me into aiming for a finished 24" x 30" oil painting, every time: 'If we can do it, so can you!' Can I ever express enough gratitude?
Whenever I pick up pencil or brush, I rely on techniques and disciplines learnt during that phase of my life; though, as a keen photographer ever since my university days, I already appreciated the value of self-criticism, how much more rigorous I became, once introduced to the cold impartiality of the mirror!
Energy / Engineering ideas
There are quite a few that I'd like to share; I'm still wondering about the best way to present them.
I am already working on my second novel. Again set in a fictional but recognisable Pembrokeshire, it will not be a continuation of A Summer Break’s story; nevertheless, there will be a link - that is all I can say for now.