David Morris, artist

David Morris, who has died aged 81, was a painter and printmaker who loved the coast of North Yorkshire and found inspiration in that landscape for more than 50 years.
David MorrisDavid Morris
David Morris

Observation and drawing were at the heart of his work. He chose his subject matter carefully, preferring to paint areas with which he felt a strong connection. Often he would undertake multiple versions of the same view, each time bringing something new to the interpretation. In these paintings he was able to capture the essence of his subjects with the free brushwork and the bold, fresh colours that were his trademark.

In the last few years, his subject matter changed and he became interested in the man-made structures – bridges, shipyards, cranes – of the industrial North.

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Born in Knaresborough, to James Morris, a poultry dealer, and Mary (nee Ditch). he left Knaresborough Secondary Modern School at 16 to go to the technical college in Harrogate to study art.

He excelled, and won a place to study fine art at the Slade School of Art in London from 1959 to 1961. With Sir William Coldstream at the helm, it was an important time at the Slade: the optimism of the 1950s combined with the rigour of regimented classes in anatomy, perspective and painting.

The teaching staff included Lucian Freud, Sir Ernst Gombrich and Keith Vaughan. Vaughan was David’s painting tutor, and David’s work during this period shows his influence. As a student he made numerous painting trips to the North Yorkshire coast, most often staying in Staithes, a fishing village with a long history of welcoming artists. Then relatively unchanged since Victorian times, the local women still wore black dresses and bonnets.

After graduating, he returned to Yorkshire and took part-time teaching posts at Bradford and Harrogate art colleges. It was at this time that printmaking, especially etching, became a particular interest.

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In 1962 he met and married Margaret Wilson, a student at Harrogate School of Art. His daughter, the artist Jane Kell, and her twin sister, Eleanor, were born in 1963. Another daughter, Sylvia, and a son, Andrew, followed in the next two years.

During this time, David’s work took a back seat as the demands of raising a young family and earning a living as a full-time teacher at Harrogate School of Art took precedence, although he continued to work in a fruitful but sporadic way – printmaking, drawing and painting, a proud and involved parent and, later, grandfather.

He is survived by Margaret, his children and 13 grandchildren.