Graham Berry, Blackpool, Lancashire, UK
I studied Graphic Design at Blackpool College of Art, and later studied Illustration at Wimbledon College of Art. After graduating in 1971 I was employed as the Illustrator at a small design studio in Soho, London and went on to have a very successful illustration career. I've had to move with the times and all my commercial illustration is now done digitally. It was this fact and the downturn in the economy that has allowed me time to concentrate on my watercolour painting. I've only recently begun to consider myself a painter, although I've drawn and painted most days for the past 40+ years as an illustrator. Any painting I did in my spare time was done to promote my illustration career. It has only been since my illustration work was now 100% digital that I could see myself as a fine artist. So, I only consider that I started my career as a painter 5 or 6 years ago.
I finally retired from illustration in early 2017 and now concentrate fully on painting and teaching. I have recently had a studio built in my garden, from where I will teach workshops to small groups of students (4 max), there will be lots of one to one tuition.
About the inspiration for my work - my paintings are inspired by the effect of light and shadow on our environment, creating dynamic shapes and colours, I especially enjoy painting people going about their everyday lives. My experience working as an Illustrator has refined my drawing ability that is the foundation to my work. I believe the ability to draw is fundamental to painting. I attend a 'Life Drawing' class every week to sharpen my drawing and observation skills. I'm always on the lookout for images that will make interesting paintings. I try to take my camera with me at all times just in case I see something that appeals. At other times I will go to a specific place or event with the intention of getting material for painting. Usually I will do a number of paintings from those photos or sketches and at the moment most of my paintings are studio based.
After years working as an illustrator, with the restrictions of working to a brief, it feels great to be painting for myself and when a painting is not going as I would like I now have the freedom to rip it up and start afresh. Somedays you feel you'll never paint anything decent, but you've just got to work through it. Every painting you produce adds to your knowledge of what works or doesn't work. Painting with watercolour is never easy and every painting provides a fresh challenge. It's a very exciting medium to work with and when a painting turns out as you would like it's very satisfying.
Over the last couple of years, I have given demos and workshops to various Art Groups in the UK and in the summer of 2016 I taught a 3 day workshop in the South of France for Rochemaure Aquarelle.
In the spring of 2017 I together with my wife Pauline embarked on a watercolour workshop tour of the USA & Canada. I taught 9 workshops in 9 weeks, three 2 day, five 3 day and one 4 day, a total of 25 days, a lot of preparation! The workshop tour began in Illinois and then on to Texas, South Carolina, Arkansas, Maryland, Edmonton (Canada), California and finally Panama City, Florida.
It was not all work and we did manage to visit some iconic destinations, Dallas, Memphis, New York and San Francisco, it really was a brilliant experience, so much so that we are planning a return trip in 2019!
Graham devotes quite a bit of his time teaching others around the world..