Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I am a retired art teacher, aged 61. I had to take early retirement some years ago for health reasons and, as I had always kept up my painting, I decided to try it full time, subject to health restrictions. I live in Perthshire, Scotland with my wife, and we have two grown up children, our son works in architecture in Brisbane and our daughter is a nurse in London.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
I was 23 when I decided to go to art college in Dundee.
What training have you had?
I trained as an artist at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. This is an intensive four year course, resulting in, at that time, a DA or Diploma of Art which was equivalent to an honours degree. I then trained for a year as a secondary school teacher, teaching ages 12-18.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Probably when I first had paintings published by an American print publisher.
Who is your favourite artist?
Samuel John Peploe.
What are you aiming for?
To be able to make a reasonable living from selling my paintings.
How will you get there?
Good question! I need to reach the right public with my art and that is why, amongst other things like gallery sales, I intend to blitz the internet with my name and work!
Is anything holding you back?
Sometimes my health slows me down.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I just want people to appreciate the beauty of this planet we live on, and in the case of my abstracts, the beauty of colour, shape and texture. I believe there is enough misery and ugliness in the world without me adding to it!
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
How long is a piece of string? It depends on many factors – what the subject is, how much detail is necessary to convey what I want to say; recently my seascapes have become looser and freer and that can mean I take a lot less time to finish. I always approach any subject the same basic way though; a very loose underpainting to establish the basic shapes, colours and tones, then a building up of texture and detail. I like to work in layers and find the alkyd paint I use excellent for this as it dries very quickly, but still gives the rich butteriness of oils.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
Fairly wide tastes from classical such as Vivaldi and Mozart to folk. My favourite is classical guitar, jazz guitar and blues, as I play guitar myself.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I am working on a series of seascapes inspired by a visit to the island of Iona; but also have plans and ideas for more abstract and semi-abstract work.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
I am inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus. There are also many musicians and artists who inspire me – Monet and the French Impressionists, Peploe, Cadell, the Scottish Colourists and the Glasgow Boys. Julian Bream (classical guitar) and Martin Taylor (jazz guitar).
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
Light is what truly inspires me, because from light comes all colour; and also reflections on water and the movement of water in different conditions such as ripples, waves, waterfalls and rapids. Landscape in all its forms.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
Hard to say; I’m really pleased with some of my most recent seascapes because I feel I am starting to achieve that loose and painterly quality I have been aiming for and the surface texture of the paintings is assuming more importance. I like that.
an artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Just keep plugging on – follow your dream!
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
Any tips would be very welcome!
You can view more of David’s sea- and landscapes over at davidiansmith.artweb.com