I began drawing ships in my early teens; a watercolour from 1973, is shown above. Also, in my family history, there was much involvement with the Royal Navy and, although I wanted to make my career in art, I too, was drawn to join the service. I believed it would aid my development as a marine artist - the doctrine “you can only paint what you truly understand” - being paramount in my mind. During my time in the service, some free periods were spent drawing ships in the dockyards, as well as numerous portraits of those with whom I served. In 1977, I won a competition to design a First Day Cover envelope for the Silver Jubilee Review of the Fleet (the design didn’t feature any ships!). I also painted several ship portraits for Commanding Officers.
After seven years, I was ready to pursue a new career as an artist and enrolled at a local art college, which just so happened to have, a growing reputation for specialising in large artworks for display on preserved ships, like the SS Great Britain and HMS Warrior. By coincidence, they were looking for a new recruit to paint HMS Belfast, for which, I seemed the most suitable candidate. For three years, amidst regular college assignments, I worked on the two metre long cutaway of this WW2 cruiser. During this time, my work came to the attention of a notable maritime book publisher launching a new series about famous warships. They needed both an author and illustrator for the HMS Belfast volume and, luckily, I fitted the bill.
On leaving college, I went for an interview with the Ministry of Defence, to work as a graphic illustrator and was offered a post at Central Graphics Navy in London, but, after much consideration, I turned it down. Fortunately, I landed a job at a graphic design studio in Southampton, where I worked for a year, which gave me a grounding in producing artwork to order. I also continued to write and illustrate my own books on ships and produce cover artwork for other volumes. I joined an artists' agency in London and at the same time, was taken on by a second agency. The first provided children’s book illustrations and postage stamp designs, the other, dust-jacket covers for fiction maritime novels. Eventually, I was offered work directly by a book designer, for a children’s series, which led to an opportunity to join another artists’ agency, where I worked on an even wider gamut of subjects; including prehistoric reptiles, historical subjects and aircraft. Following this, I went back to work for the book designer; this time producing graphic novels about famous people from history, which was another new departure for me.
The painting featured here, of HMS Diana, was painted for my sister Diana, who eventually worked at the Royal Navy School of Navigation for 22 years. I mention her especially, because she collected copies of the Navy News. I happened to browse through some of these, and one, in particular, which featured a cutaway of HMS Belfast, looked very similar to the work I had produced at college. I contacted the paper and was invited to meet the editorial staff, who offered me the opportunity to produce cutaway illustrations for them, which I did. During this time, a Commanding Officer asked the editor if they knew of an artist who could both paint his ship, and produce prints for the rededication ceremony. Thus began a new career, and, more than ten years on, my paintings now hang in a significant number of Royal Navy vessels, including HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s capital warship.
I also receive many private commissions for paintings from senior officers and ship enthusiasts, worldwide.
I work in either oil or acrylic on canvas, and even in Photoshop, on the computer.
If you are interested in the possibility of commissioning a painting, please email me at: email@example.com.