Work of John Fowler

Work of John Fowler

John Fowler: Painter

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Artist Statement

Drawing is at the heart of the way I work. I enjoy experimenting and developing techniques using various materials and media but in the end I rely on drawing to tell a story.

For a while now I’ve been using oil pastels. They have all the richness of oils in tubes but are quicker, intuitive and forgiving. You can blend, scrape back, combine them with acrylic underpainting and various collage materials to work up layers and textures. I aim to achieve a degree of complexity and richness. I also enjoy soft pastels you can get a tremendous range of colours but they do tend to break easily. Watercolour I find troublesome. It’s immediate but I prefer a more contemplative way of working. I worry away at my paintings usually going back to them several times for adjustments or even complete rejigging. Absolutely the worst way to achieve spontaneity but that’s the way I like to do it and I can only hope that what I produce is enjoyed by others.

Like many artists I tend to take inspiration from my environment. For me that has been the high and wild parts of Northern England. There’s so much to go at. It stirs the soul. Something about long wide views, changing light and moods, grittiness and a sense of ‘absence’. It’s a poetic thing. Some people see miles of emptiness with sadly abandoned buildings. I’m one of those who see a busy landscape full of wild beauty, wildlife and the shadows of an absent industrial past. I know a couple of poets who saw this, Auden and Bunting, and our own local Alston poet, Josephine Dickinson. Plenty of visual artists have seen them in the same way.

A theme has developed in some of my paintings that is about these abandoned buildings. I see a peculiar beauty in their decay and the way they are returning to nature and just want to respond to their metamorphosis in my own painterly way. Some of this work is here in this exhibition, under the theme title ‘absent’.