This is Mike Knowles’ Artists Statement from 2004 – I have been drawing and painting as a serious occupation for over forty years, but whatever led me to this pursuit probably goes back to childhood. That is to say that much of what interested me then, continues to engage me now. – landscape and people –nature, curiosity about all of this, and a delight in the art of the past (initially through Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia).
Student years at Liverpool and the Slade, my contemporaries, the artists who taught and those whom I discovered for myself, have all been formative. At Liverpool , Arthur Ballard, Charles Burton, and Nicholas Horsefield were influential in different ways.
The Slade of the 1960′s under the shrewd leadership of William Coldstream enabled contact with such major influences as Michael Andrews, Leon Kossoff, Fran Auerbach, and Euan Uglow amongst others of similar distinction.
Although by no means a group, these were artists integral to the re-emergence of figurative painting as a progressive force. Together they set the highest of standards, exemplified continuity between the great art of the past and contemporary practice. For the greater part of my career I have been based in North Wales , initially on the flanks of the Carneddau, and for the last 30 years or so in the same house in Anglesey . I have also kept a studio in Liverpool . For most of this time I have worked from landscape , not always fro m preference, for I have always enjoyed working from the figure, but partly because of the difficulty in finding models with the necessary commitment and patience. Perhaps this is why for me, elements of the landscape, particularly trees can take on anthropomorphic characteristics.
But generally it is the entirety of the subject, the interaction of the elements, land, light, and sky which interests me the most. Nevertheless for years it was the sky which dominated – perhaps the result of my childhood on the south Lancashire plain looking towards the western sky through the spectacularly colourful industrial murk. So at first it was difficult to come to terms with the convoluted landscape of Anglesey , strewn with gorse, hedgerows and rocky outcrops. Here, eventually, I was able to learn from Veronica’s {Mike’s Wife] more focused scrutiny of the world, her eye for the smallest features of landscape and their relationship to the whole. I have discovered also the advantages of working in series from limited and familiar subject matter, a nearby hillside, or particular tree – and in recent years the freedom of working with watercolour on a large scale. More recently still I have been able to draw in a weekly art class in Bangor University ‘s Carenarfon studio. Here.

In what has been something of a return to student years, Peter Prendergast and myself have worked alongside committed local artists in three hour sessions, and have been lucky enough to secure the often undervalued services of several highly professional models. Part of this series of drawings feature on the website.

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