Roger Allen: landscape artist

Materialism is not something that bothers landscape artist Roger Allen.

He doesn’t covet the latest gadgets or have to wear a certain brand.

You won’t find him stressing over owning a Porsche or for that matter getting on the property ladder – all he cares about is his painting and the landscape surrounding him.

“So long as I have enough money to eat and something left for a pint at the pub at the end of the week I am more than happy,” he says.

Roger moved to Brassington 20 years ago into lodgings at Hoe Grange Farm and is now pretty much part of the fixtures and fittings.

Before he could make a living from art he had done casual farm work to supplement his earnings as an artist, so he is a handy chap to have around the yard in an emergency.

That’s where I first meet him having made my way down the track to the farm. Not knowing anything about the artist’s life beforehand I was, I admit, expecting to be taken to a plush studio converted from a farm building.

But as I step from the car and shake his hand he instead leads me to a modest-sized caravan behind the farm  and backing on to fields.

The 66-year-old artist senses my surprise and explains that the simplicity of his life-style suits him fine.

“I have everything I need to work in here,” he says and it is true, with amazing ingenuity he has managed to fit an enormous amount of studio kit into the space.

“Much of the time I am outside though, so the space I have in here is not an issue. I usually work en plein air as I love to work from nature. My long association with farming means that I know this is a working landscape and therefore my closely observed work is more realism than idealism.

“The landscape here is what provides me with constant inspiration for my paintings. There’s moorland, rocky outcrops, parkland and plenty of clumps of trees. The farm has 200 acres and reckon I have painted practically every square inch since I arrived,” he said with a smile.

Roger was born in Yorkshire and moved to Wellingborough in Northamptonshire with his family as a child. He completed his education there and then went on to teacher training college.

“Art was not considered a serious subject in those days and I was resigned to the idea that I would have to have a career first and do my art as a hobby.

“That didn’t last long though. I did my probationary year and hated every minute of it. I decided I was going to do what I wanted to do and become an artist.

“At 16 I had a Saturday job on a farm and I continued to do some casual work until I established myself and, eventually I got into a gallery near Towcester and I ended up selling everything I produced.

“Over the years since then it has been a bit hand to mouth, but I am happy just painting and don’t want for anything else.”

Roger is a member of the Peak District Artisans and says making the move to join up with other like-minded people has been great for him.

“Being totally isolated from people I could get in a rut, so I do like to be able to communicate with people on a similar wavelength and I enjoy exhibiting my work at the events. To be honest I have never been one for putting myself or my work out there, so it is something I need to make an effort to do.”

Having said that, Roger does enter his paintings into competitions and has won awards at the Derby City Open and the Derbyshire Open many times.

This year his painting Sedbergh and the Howgills  was selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London and is now at Trowbridge Arts until December 23. It will be moving to Guildford House Gallery from January 13-March 10.

He will be taking part in the PDA exhibition at Chatsworth House from January until March and also has paintings at Cromford Studio and Gallery.

Go to http://www.rogerallen.co.uk for more details.

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