I a 36 year old creative type, recently relocated to South Wales after living in Sussex for most of my life. I say ‘creative type’ because for reasons of confidence, I struggle somewhat with the labels ‘writer’, ‘artist’ and ‘photographer’. However, I do indeed write, draw and paint, and take photos on a regular basis.
When not creating, I love spending quality time with my Kindle, reading a broad range of fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy watching Blu-rays (especially the work of Studio Ghibli), and though not as often as I used to, I still love immersing myself in a good video game on the Xbox 360. Perhaps that will change when I eventually make the leap to try the Xbox One?
About My Work
I refer jokingly to my work as ‘guerrilla landscape photography’ as I take my shots very quickly, and with minimal equipment. I rarely set out to take a particular landscape photo. All my landscapes in my landscape photography gallery have been taken while doing other things — dog walking, exploring, and visiting new places. I find there is something about taking landscape photos quickly and impulsively that seems to work for me — I see the scene, capture it and generally move on. Part of me doesn’t want to spend a life behind the lens, so I often carry a lightweight and easy to use Panasonic Lumix LX-7 which the vast majority of my shots are taken on — it’s never the focus, but is always there in my pocket if I need it.
It’s the precision and detail that can be achieved with fineliners, and their water-fast nature leads to other options such as colouring them using watercolour washes. I’m drawn to old buildings, rugged landscapes and the structured beauty of trees — subjects that I feel translate well through the medium of ink sketches. I’m still very much getting the hang of using them and exploring technique and the sort of work I like to create with them. Pigma Microns are my favourite — the ‘blackness’ of the ink is superior to other technical pens I’ve used.
Painting is another area that I’m exploring. I’ve a fair bit of experience of watercolours from my childhood, but I never took a structured approach to learning how to get the best out of them. That’s something I’d like to do now, especially in painting landscapes. I’ve also just recently started trying acrylics with the hope of finding a fast and expressive medium to work with — perhaps something to get away from being careful, and get some boldness and movement onto the page.
I love the clinical nature of digital art. I use Xara Photo and Graphics Designer (formerly Xara Xtreme) for producing vector work, as I find it fast, and easy to use. I love the clean, clinical nature of vector work. The precision of being able to make minute adjustments as well as completely changing colour schemes make it a perfectionist’s dream (or nightmare). It also allows me to focus on creating work that focuses on simplicity — often adopting a ‘less is more’ ethos.
Digital painting is quite different. I sometimes use Photoshop, but also the excellent open-source Mypaint. My work here is also in the experimental stages, but I’ve had some reasonable results speed-painting scenes.
I love short fiction. From a young age, I enjoyed shows such as Dramarama, The Outer Limits and Eerie Indiana – each episode was a completely new story, that could be about anything. Today I still enjoy reading short story anthologies, and am pleased to see that they’re enjoying somewhat of a resurgence thanks to digital publishing and ever decreasing attention spans. My choice to write short stories partly comes from wariness at diving straight into writing a full-blown novel, but also because it allows me to explore a range of genres. In my own short fiction, I like to write weirdness, often with a dark, horror or science fiction edge. Some authors I take inspiration from are Dean Koontz, James Herbert, J.G Ballard, Arthur C Clarke, Blake Crouch; and Platt, Wright & Truant.
With non-fiction writing, I’m trying hard to work my way through the numerous drafts I have accumulating in my blog posts file in Scrivener. With no particular focus on theme, it’s both a blessing and a curse — with the option to write about anything, but also the indecision that comes with it.
Writing is what I’d say I find the hardest of my creative pursuits. It’s been very slow progress for me, and it’s an issue of shame for me — chipping away at it for several years now, yet having little published work to show for my efforts. However, looking back at some of my early work, I can clearly see that I have made progress, so like the tortoise from ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’ I just keep plodding on.
Art & Photography
I was artistic throughout my school years. At the age of ten I received my first watercolours set, and was commissioned to produce watercolour paintings by two of my school teachers. I guess these were the first sales of my work.
In 1992, to my amazement, after being requested to submit a portfolio of my work, I was selected by Northwest Airlines to represent England in their ‘World Plane’ project, whereby artwork produced by one child from each of their flight destinations would cover a Boeing 747. Unfortunately, the project was mothballed due to financial difficulties, but I enjoyed three visits to the United States, paid for by Northwest Airlines the following year as a sort of ‘compensation’ for my disappointment.
Later that year, as part of our class studies of the impressionists, I painted a reproduction of Monet’s ‘Red Boats at Argentuil’. It was displayed in the school library, until one morning, it was gone — stolen. This was my first experience of art theft.
My teenage years saw my interest in art dwindle, mainly down to a particularly trying relationship with my art teacher, combined with teenage rebellion and identity crisis. I completed my Art & Design GCSE with top marks, but my heart was no longer in it.
In 2007, inspired by photographs I took while visiting Tenerife’s stunning Mt. Teide, I decided I wanted to pursue photography. I self-taught, and traded as a professional photographer for five years, providing portraits, commercial photography and some wedding photography, but it was in landscape photography where my real passion lay.
After a few year, frustrated with lugging round a heavy digital SLR and a selection of lenses in case of a possible photo opportunity, I purchased a high-end compact camera. Carrying this with me wherever I went encouraged me take more photos, more often, and my photographic enjoyment and output increased dramatically.
I relocated from Sussex in late 2015 to return to my homeland of Wales, and started the process of rediscovering myself. I found myself in ‘photographic heaven’ when it came to my landscape photography. There is something about the Welsh landscape that resonates deeply with me. Indeed, in past journal entries, I often wrote about how the landscapes of south east England left me feeling quite unfulfilled. I wanted to see mountains, rugged coastlines and waterfalls.
However, there was still a creative urge in me that wasn’t satisfied by my photography. Out of interest, I purchased a set of pigment pens in late 2016, and did a sketch of Cenarth Waterfalls. It was my first ink sketch since leaving school about 20 years earlier. I realised something had changed in me. I’d (mostly) let go of my perfectionistic tendencies, instead seeing my work through to the end, even if I wasn’t totally happy with them.
Throughout school, I loved writing stories. I’ve strong memories of weekly story writing assignments in Class 6, where I never was stuck on what to write about, and always illustrated the story with a picture. I spent much of my childhood alone with a book, travelling off to far reaches of the universe, questing across magical kingdoms and having exciting adventures in exotic ‘real world’ locations.
The stories I wrote in high school sucked. They were full of exposition and concept, with pathetic plots bolted on. I left high school with unexpectedly low grades for English Language and English Literature, and resigned myself to the fact that I just wasn’t any good with words. I believed it for the next 10 years.
After getting back into reading after 10 or so years of leaving school, I blogged on and off for nearly a decade, never really taking it seriously, and with no blog lasting much longer than about 18 months. In early 2013 I started feeling a burning desire to write – I didn’t quite know what, but I knew I wanted to — or needed to.
Towards the end of that year, after a lot of ‘thinking’ about writing, I actually put my first words of fiction onto the ‘page’. It was an absolute mess, and the story I started will probably be forgotten. What I couldn’t forget was the feeling of exhilaration as scenes and settings played out like a movie in my mind, my fingers hammering at the keyboard in a desperate attempt to get it all out before it before the ideas were gone. I was in a state of ‘flow’.
Since then it’s been an uphill struggle. Writing doesn’t come easily to me. Although my output has been low, and there have been long periods where I haven’t written at all, I keep coming back to it. I currently have several short stories on the go at the moment, with more ideas lined up. I intend to self-publish my first anthology of my short stories by the end of 2018.
I have no interest in fame, I’d just like to be able to make a living out of my work. I’ve enjoyed getting lost in fiction my whole life. I’d like people to enjoy getting lost in mine.