A Brief History Of Me…

September 27, 2017

In this blog I’ll tell you a bit about my background and will go into more detail on my paintings in future blogs.

If you chose to read my blog beyond this initial one, I hope you can share this latest adventure with me. Whether you are interested in art, curious about packing in that 9-5 job or you just want to see what I have to say for myself, I hope you can get something from this.

Back when I was nearing the end of my school years, my teachers all encouraged my school friends and I to leave school at the earliest opportunity.

Being the rebellious crowd in our year, my friends all accepted that offer and went off to find jobs, apprenticeships or college places.

I on the other hand declined, much to the dismay of my deputy head teacher who saw me as the sole troublemaker remaining in my year at the school.

The truth is, I was never really a troublemaker. I just wasn’t academic and I didn’t like to be told to wear a school uniform and hung about with other guys who had little interest in academia.

I enjoyed my school years despite being a very average student. School became a bit of a comfort zone for me as I only had vague ideas about what I wanted to do for a career. Being recognized for being pretty good at art, and the fact I enjoyed art, made me think I wanted to do something creative for a living but architects, graphic designers and draughtsmen all seemed to have career paths that started with a university degree. Something I never believed I could have achieved. All I really knew was that I eventually wanted to have my own business or work for myself without a boss telling me what to do or when to work.

In my entire school life I can’t remember a single teaching telling me I had enough talent in anything to do it for a living. When I think now, if I had an art teacher who encouraged me to pursue going to art school, I would have tried everything to make it happen but encouragement and direction where entirely absent from my education.

After leaving school I applied for an apprenticeship through the construction industry-training scheme. After two successful interviews I got a job with a construction company, where I was led to believe I would be training to become an architects technician. This was ideal, I thought. I could get the training, qualifications and experience I needed to become an architect, until the day I started and I discovered I was a trainee quantity surveyor.

Quantity surveying was never even considered by me. Of all the subjects I studied at school, maths maybe wasn’t my worst, but it was my least favourite.

I decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up at 18 years old and went ahead with my training and college course. Unfortunately I quickly lost interest in this job, as there was no creativity for me as an outlet and quit 2 years to the day after starting and after completing the college course.

I followed this up by enrolling in a year’s college course in art and design with a view to building a portfolio and getting the qualifications to apply to the Edinburgh College of art.

My application was rejected and looking back, although I was disappointed, I think they made the right decision not to enrol me. I wasn’t mentally mature enough and lacked the technical ability and single mindedness to succeed but at the time I took it to be that I didn’t have the ability to earn a living from art.

From there fell (or bluffed my way) into an I.T. job during the ‘Y2K gold rush,’ I went travelling to Asia and Australia, and spent the next 14 years drifting between I.T. contracts and permanent roles in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London while never having a particular interest in progressing up the corporate ladder or gaining qualifications and experience. My job felt like 9 hours a day of prison to sustain a modest life which usually included a car, a tiny one bedroom flat in the old town of Edinburgh city centre which I often rented out in order to cover the mortgage, and frequent trips to new cities and countries which provided an escape from my soulless work life.

During this time I constantly thought of ways to get out of my job and earn money doing something I loved, something I was good at or just something that gave me more freedom. I taught myself how to use Photoshop, illustrator, and Dreamweaver and managed to make small sums of money on projects. I worked part time in bars, drove a private hire car and coached and scouted youth football for some professional clubs but nothing gave me a viable way out of my full time job in I.T.

On the 29th of December 2009 while driving home to Edinburgh from a Celtic footfall match in Glasgow, I had a very strong urge to go home and paint. In a moment, everything occurred in my mind how to paint technically proficient oil paintings. From the moment of preparing a canvas to sketching out a grid for proportions, blocking out the shapes and colours, all the way through to the finest of details in the complete picture.

I have no idea why any of this came to me but I went home that night and painted until the sun came up.

This was the first time I had ever tried painting with either oil paints or acrylics.

Having being considered to be fairly good at art at school and having studied art for a year at college I had painted before but my school used dry discs of poster paint and water on paper with terrible overused brushes and didn’t enjoy trying to apply my preferred tight, accurate style with those tools and materials.

At college we used watercolours a couple of times but, again, I found it hard to control the paint, as I’d like. Because of those experiences I had completely disregarded painting with oils or acrylics even though my Granddad painted many paintings with both of those mediums and was a big inspiration for me artistically so I stuck to drawing with pencils and chalks.

For my first painting I looked out the paints and brushes my Grandad had given me when his eyesight started to fail and found a canvas board to practice on. My lack of knowledge about painting became clear when I mixed oils with acrylics and spoilt the painting which turned out quite crude and disproportionate but at the time I was happy with it and it gave me enough confidence to try some more and hone my skills better.

Finding the time to paint while working with everything else was difficult and hindered the speed of my development. I was able to sell a few paintings and gave some away for charity auctions but never made enough to quit my job.

While living and working and unhappy in London I was offered a way out of I.T. and a way back to Edinburgh in a new job repairing dents in cars.

I was trained up and started work and slowly got to a level I could make a living in the job. I enjoyed the practical side of the job far better than working in any office but the conditions surrounding the job often made it worse than my I.T. jobs. On top of that, the job gave me less time to paint as I worked longer hours and came home to tired to paint and when I did find the time to paint, I could see I was improving all the time.

My live-in-girlfriend had quit her job under similar circumstances 8 weeks earlier and was expecting her final wage at the end of her gardening leave in that month.

My long term tenant had just given me notice to move out of my flat a month earlier and the flat needed extensive repairs before it could be rented again so that was another loss of income.

Things at work in my dent repairs job were getting worse. A lost of damaged tool had to be replaced and the average dent tool costs around £150. My employers unique strategy of heaping needless pressure on me intensified and the cost of replacing lost and broken tools caused me to be in more debt than I was at the start of the previous month.

Eventually the breaking point came when I got a particularly poor wage. After 4 years I quit my job with no real form of income to replace my wage or rent.

You might say it was a calculated risk but it was our only option. My girlfriend and I immediately turned our full time jobs into a 2 week effort to refurbish the flat in time for the Edinburgh festival. Fortunately we managed to get the flat ready and rented for the festival.

Although the flat rental has got us ticking over for the last 2 months, but we still need a regular income to survive.

At this stage I was close to finishing a painting I had been working on for about 3 years. Any spare time I had was spent trying to complete this one painting and now I have just completed it. Hopefully I can sell it to generate some income for us and use it to promote myself and gain more commissions.

Thanks to my little flat I have managed to survive without finding another job so far but I need to make an income from painting to be able to concentrate my full time on it.


Please continue to follow this blog to find out if I manage it or not. Fingers crossed!


Welcome to my art blog!

September 22, 2017

Here’s a little bit about me; I am a 39 year old self taught artist from Edinburgh in Scotland and in the future blogs you will find here I’ll be telling you a bit about my history, how I managed to quit my full time job in an attempt to become a full time professional artist and I will continue to write articles as my artistic career unfolds.

My main objective to at least be able to sustain myself by selling my art but I would like to be successful and hopefully, eventually I can call myself a hyper-realist painter.

All my experiences in this adventure will be shared with you here so I hope you enjoy them and I will do my best to accompany them with some photos and videos

Take care and I’ll be back with my first real post shortly.