Featured artist

John Walton

I was born in London and my first memory of anything vaguely artistic was at the age of about six asking my uncle, an artist and architect, to draw a car for me. I can also remember taking great pleasure in colouring in some of the black and white drawing in my ‘Unstead’ history book.

At the age of 11 I attended The Latymer school, London. One day the art teacher, Norman Stannard, said he had been given money to buy art prints to decorate the corridors. He showed a collection of French impressionists prints. For me, one stood out, Monet’s last masterpiece Bar at the Follies-Bergere and luckily for me the painting is in the Coultauld Gallery, London where I have seen it many times and I still marvel at the many visual puzzles it presents. This was the beginning of my interest in great art that continues to the present day.

In the sixth form we were encouraged look carefully and to draw what we see. I am not sure that today’s A-level students are given opportunities for this method of study. I remember being sent out to make drawings and paintings at a derelict vicarage. It was in a terrible run down state with floorboards, stairs and banisters missing. In those days the concept of health and safety was non existent. Norman Stannard was very interested in all aspects of architecture and so my A-level art studies were broadened and names such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Mies Van De Rohe were regularly discussed. Visits to the RIBA for student lectures were encouraged. However my sixth form years coincided with the ‘swinging sixties’ and I partied with great gusto. Consequently, my A-level results were not good enough for me to study architecture (although looking back, I don’t regret one second).

After a year or so I decided to become a teacher. I had the choice of studying art or mathematics. I chose the latter as I thought it would be of greater use in school. I met my wife, Linda, a fellow student studying art, and we moved to Northampton. We both worked with young children and eventually I became headteacher of a rural primary school. During holidays, at home and abroad, we always visited galleries and museums and enjoyed the work on show. However, for nearly 20 years I did not participate in any practical art.

One day Linda was looking for a birthday present for me and saw an advertisement for a weekend life drawing course. The course was run by John Lockett a well known local artist. This proved to be the beginning of a long friendship with John and it led to life drawing sessions for nearly 20 years. It also acted as a spring board for me to take up painting once again. Linda and I went on several painting holidays and these encouraged me to use oils as well as watercolour.

For several years I have attended the Carey Art Group under the expert guidance of John Black. He has a marvellous ‘eye’ for all matters to do with art and is always positive when giving feedback. As well being a member of the FPAA, I am a member of The Town and County Art group. I have regularly entered work for the FPAA exhibition and have been awarded several ‘highly commended’ citations. In addition, at the 2018 exhibition my submitted work was awarded 'Visitors’ Choice' and 'Best Watercolour', and I was presented with The Peter Jenkins Memorial Award in 2019.

I will be first to admit that I am a slow painter. Producing a painting involves making so many decisions and I often seem to contradict myself! So as well as producing paintings of a conventional size, I have taken an interest in producing very small paintings, sometimes as small as 6cm x 7cm. For this work various types of magnifying glasses are used.

During lockdown I have done some painting, mainly landscape, but also my first oil portrait. Another way I have occupied myself is by applying the ‘Desert Island Discs’ rules to the works of art that I have seen. This spans over fifty years of visiting galleries and exhibitions in the UK, Europe and the US. The list I have made is, of course, highly personal. I have used two criteria for selection: first, I have actually been in the presence of the original - ie no prints or illustrations; and secondly, the work has triggered a emotional response in me that in some cases can be overwhelming.

Painter working, Reflection 1993 Lucian Freud Oil Private collection
Bar at The Folies-Bergere Manet Oil Courtauld Gallery London
The Resurrection Piero Della Francesca Fresco Pinacoteca Comunale Sansepolcro
The Jewish Bride Rembrandt Oil Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Self portrait as St Paul Rembrandt Oil Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
A young woman sleeping Rembrandt Brown Ink British Museum
Norham Castle Sunrise J M W Turner Oil Tate Gallery
The Water Seller of Seville Velazquez Oil The Wellington Collection, Apsley House, London

Being limited to eight means many favourites had to be left out. But in true ‘Desert Island Discs’ fashion if I was to choose one painting to save from the waves it would be ‘The Jewish Bride’. Vincent Van Gough, on seeing Rembrandt’s masterpiece for the first time in 1885, said to a friend that he would “gladly give up ten years of his life to be able to sit in front of the painting for a fortnight with only a crust of dry bread to eat”. A bit over the top - but anyone who has seen it will marvel at its depiction of instinctive tenderness.


 

Broken Fence

Highland Stream

 
 

Sunset Tryptich

 
 

Seascape Reflections

Ossie

 
 

Through the Woods

 
 

 

 

Back to Top