Meet the Cheshire artists bringing our county to life with their paintbrushes, oil pens and watercolours
PUBLISHED: 10:06 29 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:40 29 October 2020
Explore our diverse county through the eyes and imaginations of these artists and their very different styles
Urban sketcher Ian Fennelly describes himself as an artist “who makes art in a busy location while looking at buildings and street furniture.”
He begins each work with a watercolour-painted wash to break up the space, establishing the shapes of his composition – “an emotional part of the process,” he says, because of the colour. He then takes brush pens to add depth and tonal value, before using liner makers to add texture and detail.
“This is a big part of the creative journey as recording the detail of an urban scene really forces you to look and notice things,” Ian says. “This brings in the very human element of simply being out on location and fully experiencing and enjoying the world around you.
“I’ve always been drawn to the urban environment where people interact with the busy spaces that surround them. I try to draw people without actually putting them in – partly because they never keep still – but I like drawing the spaces they’ve been in, or the cobbles they’ve walked on, and the windows they’ve looked through. I love location drawing as it enables me to record the experience of being in a busy place. I tend not to sit still, so the angles can change. If a car or van parks up in front of me, the choice is to draw through it, or move around it – either way, you have to get fully involved in the scene, both physically and imaginatively.”
Tarvin-based Trevor Senior likes to take a different view: a “not-so-obvious” take on subjects. “I try to show a familiar yet fresh artistic view,” the self-taught artist says. Most of his artwork is painted with acrylic, but he sometimes dabbles with oils, too.
And when he’s not painting local subjects, he works on commissions of pop art and landscape scenes, from travels both home and abroad. “Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time,” he says. “I could be walking down the canal in Chester and see a tree turning the autumn colours, so I’d take a photo and work from there. So what style am I? I’m whatever follows my brush strokes and how my imagination is that day.”
Julie Colclough has created extraordinary paintings for 30 years. Her unique paintings on old maps and documents add a deeper sense of place – they partly conceal layers of geography and hints of history. Inspired by a lifetime of keeping travel sketchbooks, whether exploring close to home or through Europe, Julie says: “Inspiration is everywhere. We are spoilt for choice in Cheshire with fabulous architecture and scenery. It is often the light on a subject that makes me stop in my tracks and have to draw it. I also love finding old signposts; they have so much character – the crumblier the better. Wandering country lanes looking for them is a favourite pastime. So much of my work is about journeys and exploration; I’m sure I’ll never run out of ideas.”
Altrincham-born Jim Stanley studied fine art at the University of Reading, but it was his time teaching at Adwood Primary School in Stockport that inspired his career in painting after being asked to paint murals, decorating the interior and exterior of the building to assist teaching and support the ethos of the school.
“Last year I retired from teaching and resolved to fully exploit whatever talent I had,” Jim says. “In 2004 I had a conversation with Nico Pasquale, owner of Bruschetta, a café in Northwich, who suggested I paint outside and that perhaps Italian scenes would be appropriate.
“I learnt acrylic painting by setting up my easel outside the café for 10 years on a Saturday, and gradually the subjects of the paintings found their way into my heart and I began a love affair with Italy. My artistic influences are varied but my current work owes a lot to Edward Hopper and Johannes Vermeer. A friend once said I have a continental palette and that my pictures of Northwich are somehow bathed in a Mediterranean light.
“Northwich is certainly an interesting place as a subject matter. With its disappearing houses, swinging bridges and quirky mock-Tudor buildings, it could have been created from Lewis Carroll’s imagination.”