With a hard work ethic and a natural down-to-earth charm Peter Watson is an artist who wholeheartedly deserves the plaudits he receives for his landscape paintings.
It’s been a long time coming for Peter as for more than 40 years he hid his light under a bushel while working as a sign writer for the Derby and Burton Co-operative Society and latterly sign making and installation for Central England Co-operative.
However five years ago, as retirement loomed, his wife Linda encouraged him to rekindle his art so that he had another outlet for his creative skills.
A spare bedroom in their cute cottage at Bradley, near Ashbourne, was turned into a studio and he hasn’t looked back since.
One of the first times his landscapes were revealed to the public was at the 2015 Melbourne Festival where he was thrilled to sell eight paintings. Spurred on by such positive feedback and with more persuasion from Linda (who clearly is one of his biggest fans) he then entered the Derbyshire Life Landscape Painter of the Year in 2016.
“I didn’t think for one minute I would win it, but I did, and it is one of the proudest moments in my life,” said Peter.
“What is a little sad, I guess, is that my skills had been lying dormant for all those years. Part of me regrets not having started painting sooner but now my passion has been rekindled I am making up for lost time.”
Peter eventually retired from the Co-op in 2018 and since then he has been painting full time and attending more and more art festivals.
“I really love going to the festivals and talking to people about my work,” he explained.
“I like the idea of knowing who has bought a particular painting. I feel a certain sense of achievement when someone likes something I have painted enough to hang it on their wall and is even better to have met them.”
The artist says he was keen on painting and drawing as a teenager and loved his art lessons at school in Derby but didn’t really do so well in other subjects.
“I neglected my studies at school and at 16, not knowing what to do, I attended Derby School of Art, Green Lane, Derby, to study A-level art – that changed things for me.
“I eventually went on to take a Diploma in Art at the Derby College of Art specialising in graphic design.
“I thought that would give me better job prospects at the time and that’s how I ended up at the Co-op as a sign writer. I enjoyed my job and over the years saw many changes but I have to say I don’t miss it now. I couldn’t be happier. What I am doing now is purely me and I love it.”
Peter uses mainly acrylics on either board or canvas and mainly takes his inspiration from the Derbyshire landscape on his doorstep – although he also paints coastal scenes when he is on holiday.
“Living here means I have plenty of opportunity to rush out and sketch if the weather conditions suddenly change.
“I am out in all weathers, but I particularly like the winter, not just because of snow but also because of the shapes created by the bare bones of trees. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy to find inspiration there is more than enough to paint here.
“When painting en-plein-air I always work at speed. I like to capture the moment in one session, which is what I think gives my paintings the vibrancy and special atmosphere I like to create.”
To find out more about Peter’s work go to http://www.peterwatsonartist.co.uk. Some of his work is exhibited at Duffield Gallery in Belper as a resident artist and he regularly exhibits at Ingleby Gallery.