Colin Halliday, artist

Padley%20Gorge%20Revisited%20Final%20Colin%20Halliday-2If you follow Colin Halliday on facebook you will already know that he is a prolific painter.

Weeks can go by when there are no posts from him and you know he is working and then one day photo after photo of his en plein air work in the Derbyshire countryside will appear.

On two days in the summer he invited comments on close to 100 different paintings.

I therefore thought I would be prepared to see a lot of work when I went to interview him at his Duffield home and studio but I was wrong. Very wrong.

The first thing Colin said as I stepped over the threshold was that before we sat down to talk he wanted to show me two things.

First was his attic, which was crammed to the rafters with hundreds and hundreds of paintings and next was the top floor of a huge barn a few minutes away, which was weighed down by so much canvas there was hardly room to stand.

I admit to being open-mouthed at the incredible sight but, as Colin had intended, seeing it for myself helped explain a great deal about the artist.

“Now you can understand how I work, and that is important,” he said as we walked back to the house.

“I have been painting for 30 years and can paint a thousand pictures a year so for me it is not surprising there are so many. I just keep going and continuously strive to learn more and improve.

“I am on my own journey – I am not entirely sure where I am going but I am always easing forward with my work. The one thing that always remains the same is that the landscape is key to what I do.

“I am just blown away by its beauty. It is not the ‘pretty pretty’ landscape – not the obvious big shouty scenes – I paint the everyday landscape. These are the views we all see every day,” he said as he gestured towards his paintings on the wall.

The 51-year-old has recently completely stripped back his palette to just cadmium yellows and red, lemon yellow, blue ultramarine, cerulean blue and titanium white. He applies them using large palette knives and copious amounts of paint resulting in loose paintings with plenty of movement.

“From a distance the detail is clear but close up all the marks and colours appear isolated,” he explained as he described his technique.

Colin is the son of a Cumbrian farmer and a strict Methodist mother and he had a tough upbringing.

His early life left him with a great work ethic and strong sense of honesty, which means he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. It also gave him a passion for the natural landscape that has influenced his art.

After a foundation course at Carlisle he moved south to Exeter to study Fine Art. He was determined to work his own way and admits he probably irritated his tutors by wanting to get on with the painting rather than debate the more academic side to the subject.

“They were hell bent on the meaning of this and the meaning of that but I just wanted to learn to draw and paint what was in front of me,” he said clearly still vexed by the memories.

After university he returned briefly to Cumbria but then decided if he was going to be taken seriously as an artist he would have to move to London.

The 12 years he spent in the city offered him a grittiness that was a great source of inspiration and his body of work includes his own twist on landmarks such as Battersea Power Station.

It was his wife’s move north for work reasons that brought Colin to Derbyshire in 2005 and enabled him to return to painting the English countryside and develop his intuitive sense of style and colour.

He struck up a friendship with two other artists Mark Preston and Julian Mason and he credits them with helping him to find his way into working en plein air.

“They have been incredibly friendly and open and I probably would not have ended up where I am now without them. We have fed off each other and Mark and I share a similar work ethic.

“What I have always done is strive to be different, and to do that you have to find your own language. That is really what is most important – you always need to look and see but you then have to find your own voice.”

Colin is the featured artist at the Derwent Gallery in Grindleford during October and he also has a solo exhibition at the GX Gallery in London next year. You can see more of his work at http://www.colinhalliday art.co.uk