Barry Race, quality manager for Sheffield engineering firm Tinsley Bridge Group, talks about his passion for oil painting.
I AM a trained engineer and have worked within heavy industry all my working life. Discovering that I had a passion for oil painting in my mid forties was a surprise to me and my family.
Even more of a shock was how my efforts have been received, as I have exhibited at the Great Sheffield Art Show on a number of occasions now.
Ten years ago I was on holiday in Cornwall and walked passed an art shop that had a postcard in the window that stopped me in my tracks. It was The Singing Butler by the Scottish artist Jack Vettriano.
The shop was closed but my wife and I went back and I ended up buying it. On returning home I purchased a small canvas and some acrylic paints as well as a book to read up about painting techniques.
I found out Jack Vettriano was a miner who then became an artist. He was self taught, so I thought if a miner can do it a steel man can.
Interestingly enough, the panting came out well and my wife encouraged me to persevere. A decade later I have discovered a great way to de-stress and am now deep into a consuming and fulfilling hobby.
In the last decade, I have concentrated on copying paintings by Jack Vettriano and Mark Spain, both well-known and whose paintings sell for thousands, but now I feel confident enough to develop some subjects of my own.
I am learning Adobe photoshop and have just renovated a Gentry kit car (a replica of a 1953 MGTF). So I am putting together a computer canvas of a woman sat inside a French café window and have used a photograph of my car parked outside the café window in order to paint my own composition.
I paint at home and also when visiting my caravan on the East Coast, sitting in the doorway that overlooks fields and a fishing pond. I am known there now and sometimes I find it difficult to progress with paintings as so many people come and chat. I tend to produce up to three a year and now paint in oils. I have even sold some of my copies.
I had great satisfaction from a recent visiting Australian relative. I had showed him a book of Vettriano’s work one of which depicted Donald Campbell’s Bluebird land speed car. He said how much he liked the subject and colours. Before his nine-month stay in the UK expired I presented him with one I had painted specifically for him.
I think perhaps my engineering training, and my time as a draughtsman, that requires accurate drawing, has helped me develop a skill for copying.
I never let my painting become a mission or a chore. If I am not in the mood I walk away and come back when I want to. It’s a pleasure and a pride to see my finished work that mostly adorns the walls of my home and those of my family and friends.