Emotional Landscapes: Painter Rupert Aker in the spotlight
To see more of Rupert’s landscape paintings visit: www.rupertaker.com
Being a painter
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I am a landscape painter, based in the Cotswold hills in England. I walk the local valleys and hills, gaining my inspirating from the woods, meadows and hedgerows. My aim is to capture the effects of the light on the land though the medium of oil paint with palette knife.
When did you decide to pursue painting as a career?
Having painted since I was at school, but only holding my first exhibition at the age of 30, I wish I had pursued a painting career earlier. It was the success of this first exhibition which encouraged me to pursue a career as an artist.
What training did you have?
Having studied art until ‘A’ level, I didn’t follow this with any formal training – deciding instead to study for an estate management degree in order to get a ‘proper job’. However, creativity was always within me and I kept painting, developing my own style and ‘voice’. A number of art school graduates have said that I am lucky that I didn’t go as they have had art ‘taught out of them’.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
I was very pleased when celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, bought my painting of some Highland Cattle at an exhibition in Edinburgh.
What’s your favourite quote?
A favourite quote by an artist in attributed to van Gogh: ‘The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting’. And how alive his paintings were…
Who is your favourite artist?
I don’t have a favourite I’m afraid, like I don’t have a favourite colour. There are numerous artists who inspire me. Recently, I have been very taken with the landscapes of the late Welsh artist, Kyffin Williams. A fellow proponent of the palette knife, I love the way he captures the essence of the north Wales landscape. I feel a landscape painter should be emersed in his subject, and Kyffin certainly was.
What are you aiming for?
I am aiming to find a way of expressing the wonder of nature and the landscape around me through the relatively clumsy medium of oil paint on canvas. Nothing can replace being outside and experiencing the natural world in its raw state, but if I can at least capture the essence of it, I am happy.
How will you get there?
I think this is a journey that will take a lifetime, and I will probably never get there completely. Every painting is a learning process, and another step on that journey.
Is anything holding you back?
You and painting
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 hope to create an emotional response through my painting – whether it be a sense of peace and calm or excitement and energy. I am pleased if people spend time really looking at my work. At a recent exhibition a lady spent a long time in front of my painting of an evening pathway, festooned with cow parsley. When she turned around, she was in tears saying that she had never been moved by a painting in such a way before.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
It depends on my mood and the size of the painting. Whatever I paint, I aim to be immediate and as quick as possible so that the paintings do not look overworked.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
When I am painting en plein air, my soundtrack is the world about me. In the studio, I love some uplifting classical music compilations and opera.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
My current project is to hold a regular pop-up exhibition at locations throughout the Cotswolds, showing my art in the landscape that inspired them. I often sell paintings straight off the easel – I love the idea of people buying freshly produced paintings as they might freshly produced veg.
Being inspired by painting
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
Anyone who manages to step off the treadmill and follow their dreams.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as a painter?
Evening shadows; cow parsley and hogweed; the smell of linseed oil in the oil paint; water refections; mist, evaporation and sunshine after a rain storm; painting en plein air; the gloaming; the successfully hung exhibition…
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My latest work tends to be my favourite. It is usually another step on the journey to creating the work I aspire to. Windrush Valley below is one of these – I was pleased with my depiction of the evening light and shadow, the use of colour and the freedom I felt whilst painting it.
a painter’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for painting into a career, could you give any advice?
Start small, build up a collection of around 25 paintings that you are happy with, take the plunge and organise an exhibition. I would recommend hiring a suitable but low cost venue (I’ve used town or village halls or set up easels in a public place) and then promoting it yourself through posters and flyers. Gauge the response and go from there.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
I think, as with any product, you have to be seen. Artweb is great as a website to refer people to. Try and hold as many exhibitions as possible to let people see your work. These often result in commissions, although sometimes commissions are not hat you want to paint!