I was born, the 3rd of 4 children, in Maryhill, a northwestern district of Glasgow on July 7th 1960. After schooling, in 1977 I enrolled as a student at the Glasgow school of art where I studied drawing and painting. On graduating in 1981, I worked as an artist on various community-based projects before entering mainstream education as an art teacher in 1990. Since taking early retirement in 2018 I have continued producing and exhibiting my own work.
My earliest memories are of oiled wood, polished brass, the orange glow of a gas fire and the smell of burning cinders in outside bins. Although we lived in a tenement on the outskirts of a city, just beyond our backyard was the open space of fields of hay that seemed to stretch for miles and the beauties of Maryhill park. And there was the radio.
Throughout school I was unexceptional and our house didn’t have books, but there was always Maryhill library. There I discovered the Greek myths and legends, essays and pictures. My culture, such as it was, did not include any visits to art galleries, but was a diet of comics, t.v., movies and pop music. And of course books.
How I work
I work mostly from my imagination. Although the pictures show real things, what I’m doing is reconstructing them from my memory, or first impression. I’ll make a sketch and that is the seed, or kernel from which the final image is grown. This explains the dream-like appearance of the pictures, regardless of whether the subject matter was real, or drawn from a story.
When I get an idea I make a series of pictures to work out which one looks best. When I imagine, it’s like a movie in my head. I shoot the scene, then I look at the strip of film and slowly run it back and forth until I get the frame I want. The one I want for the poster. That’s why my best images are posters without words. A frozen frame of action: the curtain billowing behind the window in ‘Summer Afternoon’, the pen hovering above the paper in ‘Constitution’, the man leaning against the pillar in ‘Nightclub’, or where you are about to take the next step towards the waiting company in ‘Satan’s Ball’. The point in the story when you need to know what happens next?
I work in a range of drawing and painting media with a range of subject matter, including cityscape, figurative, portraiture and landscape.
- Studied at the Glasgow school of art (drawing and painting)
- Community artist
- Teacher of art
- Underground gallery
- Glasgow film theatre
- Paisley art institute
- Scottish amicable building
- National theatre (London)
- Roger Billcliffe gallery
- A.S.P.S. studios
- Scotia gallery
- European illustration
- Pan books