Tell us a bit about yourself…
I hail from Yorkshire but have spent most of my life away from it, moving to London after graduating from my Photography Degree in Wolverhampton. Since then I have had many different careers, but always related to art and design, from being a freelance photographer to digital Artworker to children’s book illustrator and most recently designing children’s toys. With the encouragement of my wife, I dipped my toe into the art world about a year ago and took part in a local art show. I was amazed and delighted by people’s reaction to my pictures and their interest in how I create them, not to mention the thrill of having someone buy your work to hang on their walls! I know how important the pictures that we hang on our walls can be and feel deeply touched that people want to take my art into their homes. So, this year has been a transition period for me, moving away from the design work and concentrating on art. I have been lucky to meet so many amazing people, especially Juliet at the Ashdown Gallery, who have helped, guided and inspired me on this journey (which included pointing out that an artist called Mark Preston already existed, hence I had to add my middle name ‘Munroe’ to avoid confusion).
The artistic process, for me, has been quite a revelation, having spent almost thirty years being told what you were supposed to be doing (albeit with your own artistic style), and was both exhilarating and terrifying, but as I develop the latter fades somewhat. When I considered creating my first series of artworks I was inspired by the local landscape and this passion has continued throughout my work, though my interpretations evolve and change through time. Having spent many years walking the countryside with my dogs, I had amassed a large catalogue of photographs, a by-product of having to be outside at dawn quite often and waiting for the dogs to finish rummaging about in the woods, and these became my starting point when creating my art.
My artistic process is much the same as when I was a digital illustrator many years ago, but on a much larger scale, made possible by the power of modern computers. From the original source image, I extract the parts that interest me and combine them with other photographs, scans of found objects, textures, sketches and paintings. My love of the landscape is matched by a lifelong fascination for the textures created by the decay of the man-made world and my work is often a combination of them both. The idea that something as unremarkable as a patch of rust can be transformed into a thing of beauty when combined with other elements. All these are brought together as layers, often several hundred, in the computer software and combined until I have achieved the desired result. These files are then sent to a specialist fine art printer where they are reproduced with incredible precision, using the highest quality inks and papers, as limited-edition prints.
Most of my pictures are named using the latitude and longitude where the original photographs were taken. I like the idea that someone who has a piece of art can actually visit the place when it was ‘born’ or possibly buy art inspired by somewhere they love.
So far, my journey has been incredible, and I have learned so much, but I realise that I have a long way to go, which is why I applied to (and was so delighted to be accepted by) ArtCan. Their support and advice will hopefully enable me to continue with my new career and I look forward to working with them in the future.
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