Featured artist

Michael Pollard

Member of the Society of Botanical Artists

Michael is a freelance artist, who joined the FPAA in 2009. He was born in Cambridge, educated at a Harpur Trust school in Bedford, and now lives and works from home in Bozeat, Northamptonshire.

In his gap year between leaving school and gaining a scholarship at the Luton School of Art to study art and design for five years, he was already painting commercially with a local art studio - Spectrum Studios - in Bedford.

The long course of study at Luton included drawing and painting for the first year, and then a four year course in graphic design. This included typography, photography and lithographic printing - so he was well qualified to design the new FPAA logo!

Before going fully freelance in 1974 Michael worked for a number of commercial art studios, producing high quality illustration for local companies - such as Charles Wells, Texas Instruments, Meltis, Tobler Suchard, Jordans, and many others. Much of his work has been used for greetings cards, calendars and jigsaw puzzles - usually on a cottage or country house garden theme. He has also been commissioned to paint over 250 postage stamps for British crown colonies and dependencies worldwide - including Antigua, Montserrat, Tuvalu and Jersey. Subjects have typically included anniversaries, flaura and fauna, and Christmas - all painted to a very high standard at 4x stamp size, in watercolour. The graphics on the stamps also has to be designed and added on a film overlay over the artworks, and the artist has special permission to use the Queen's Head or the Royal Cypher in producing the stamp artwork.

Michael's ability to paint and love of plants and gardens soon attracted him to the Society of Botanical Artists, where he was elected a full member in 1988 - gaining the society's diploma on submission of five works. He usually exhibits paintings on alternate years at the society's annual open exhibition at Westminster in spring. For plant-loving artists the exhibition comes close to paradise; it is so well presented, and has world class quality exhibits that are sometimes ruthlessly selected!

Michael paints in watercolour for most traditional works, but occasionally enjoys forays into heavy acrylics in a more contemporary style when time and inspiration permit. His 'Sunflowers' painting at the 2011 FPAA exhibition won 'Best in Show' at the Wellingborough Museum - and this year, he hopes to exhibit something quite different.

Michael continues his story...

I am often asked about my philosophy on art. I am constantly grateful for all the inspiration I have received over the years from other artists, both living and old, and famous - especially the pre-Raphaelite artists, their works and writings. The French Impressionists, too - particularly Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. However, Picasso leaves me stone cold! For me, there has to be mathematics, physics, and geometry at work in a perceptive way in any abstract work - otherwise I will ignore it!

My idea of art is timeless. I am just as happy painting a futuristic scene set in 3000AD as I am re-creating an ancient view set in Egypt over 75,000 years ago! Imagination has no limits I am aware of. I was advised many years ago by a master artist to search out the correspondence between music and art - because there is one that few treat with the respect it deserves. After all, there are seven notes in the octave and seven colours in the spectrum - and each note corresponds to a colour. I am aware of this in every painting I do - so C, D and E are red, orange and yellow; a hint!

One of my heroes will always be the italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, and I have read and studies his notebooks on art for many years. Leonardo considered art as divine, and it's calling likewise. With that I agree. As artists, we should always listen to the Great Masters and remember that it is not only the beauty of nature, but also the spirit at work beneath the world of appearances that should guide us. I have found that the real way to make continued progress is to worship at nature's shrine - which is all around us. The quest at the outset for a personal style now seems vanity to me in the extreme, although I have to confess I used various 'styles' whilst illustrating children's books long ago!

I am also convinced that we have an endless series of lives on this Earth. As I see it, my ability to draw in perspective at the age of five is proof that my talent is either a gift of God and / or experience brought through from previous lives (re-incarnation laws). I know I was once a Dutch artist in a previous life, because of definite details given me in visionary dreams - but I cannot tell who the artist was! So, my philosophy and advice would be: be true to yourself, to the inner spirit, and to your subject; act like a mirror, reflecting ideas with the inner eye in your chosen medium; and avoid all distraction when searching for inspiration to complete the work in hand.

At present I am organising a website of my work. If there is anything of special interest in this feature, please contact me through the FPAA. I shall be delighted to be of any assistance and service.

Castle Ashby





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