Featured artist

Brian Munton

Dip.FPAA

I was born in Kettering in December 1934. We lived close to the Eastern side of town and much of my youthful memories are of times spent in the countryside. The Ise Brook and the remains of an old Mill attracted the children from all around and of course in summer the fields and hedges were places to hunt for birds eggs and to catch butterflies, all of which were plentiful. Not of course hobbies that young people are encouraged to follow any more.

Later, and as I got into my teens, sport took over and in the winter it was football and in the summer cricket.

On finishing my Secondary Education I was fortunate enough to be apprenticed to a large local firm of Plumbing & Heating Engineers, who operated not only in Kettering but throughout the county. This meant that I was often travelling through the Northamptonshire countryside, and visiting picturesque villages, often with interesting country houses and mansions built with the creamy local limestone.

All these things, I suppose, led to my interest in the countryside, its interesting buildings and particularly a lifelong interest in birds - their plumage and their song. I also developed an interest in the weather, the sky, cloud formations and temperature, and have for many years kept a weather diary.

As I progressed through the firm and finally became its manager, I had even more opportunity to view interesting country houses and occasionally stately homes. When lead work was to be done I would have a birdís eye view from the roof and the surrounding area Ė in all weathers!

Photography was of course not cheap in those days, and my introduction to art - although I did not think of it as such Ė was through the occasional photo I took of an historic building or of the countryside. Though it would probably be more accurate to say that what little photography I could afford was saved for summer holidays and the family.

In my 50s, I decided that a change of job was in order and I took a post at the Kettering General Hospital in the Work Study department. This job confined me to a desk and in many ways I missed the freedom of travel I had before, but I was more than ever involved with sport. As well as playing soccer I was a qualified referee, and in winter I took an evening keep fit class at one of the local schools. In summer it was cricket and of course my other great hobby Ė my allotment Ė an all the year round pleasure, especially when eating what you have produced.

For many years my wife and I had spent our summer holidays with two old friends whose families had grown up with our own. Each year my wife and our friends would take a pile of books away, and on the beach or around the pool they would read. I would buy a newspaper or do a crossword, but sitting in the sun reading a book was not for me. I enjoyed just lying in the sun, walking and swimming and taking the odd photo when touring around; but I came in for a lot of leg pulling when our friends commented that I had taken the same Dick Francis novel about Horse Racing with me for the last five years or so and hadnít got past the first half dozen pages.

The next year our friend Jackie brought with her on holiday some of her watercolour paints, brushes and paper. We were holidaying in Southern Italy in a small town called Tropea in the Province of Callabria. Jackie decided that if I wasnít going to read, then I should paint. This was 1990 and from then on, for the next few years, when we arrived at our chosen Mediterranean holiday spot, Jackie would take out the paints and I would be tutored whilst Gill, my wife, and Stephen, Jackieís husband were reading.

At some point over the next few years I acquired my own painting equipment, but I was still heavily involved in sport, and it was only when I retired Ė no longer playing soccer, but still playing cricket - that I began to paint a little more seriously.

Probably the most useful thing I did immediately after retiring was to attend a one day picture framing course with a Wellingborough firm who specialised in providing machinery and materials for professional picture framers. They werenít averse to giving a days training to the odd amateur, and from this I began to understand the importance of a good frame and hopefully how to make one. I now do all my own framing.

All this time Jackie Billings was my mentor and critic. When she thought I was sufficiently advanced and needed further tutoring she recommended that I enrol in one of Richard Allenís painting classes. This was a good discipline and made me realise that there was a technique for most problems a painter faced and that I had a lot to learn.

A lifetime of active sport had taken itís toll on my knees and hips, and after a couple of operations to sort things out, I found that I was one of the unfortunate few whose joints calcified after an operation. I was at the age when most sportsmen hung up their boots, but didnít expect to have it forced upon me. Every cloud however has a silver lining, and I had a hobby that didnít require much mobility.

Painting now became a more and more important part of my life. My love of the countryside in all seasons, and particularly of small villages, stone cottages and churches influenced the subjects I chose to paint. I have always tried to modestly price any painting I was selling, and probably because most of my pictures were of local scenes, I have managed to sell reasonably well.

In 2000 I heard about John Black and joined one of his classes. I have benefited enormously from his help and guidance since then. In 2010 I was proud to be awarded the FPAA Diploma.

Jackie is still my kind and helpful critic, and as each year goes by I get more pleasure than ever from this wonderful hobby. Additionally my summer holiday is now more peaceful and fulfilling as I no longer get admonished for not reading my very tattered novel by Dick Francis.


Queen Eleanor Cross

 


Chalets 1

 


Chalets 2

 


Beach Huts

 


Blythburgh

 


Cannon Hill

 


Harbour

 


Italy

 


Jetty

 


Office on the hill

 


Pier

 


Sandy beach

 


Walberswick, Suffolk

 


   
   

 

 

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