Arwyn Quick

Studio PortraitArwyn Quick will almost certainly be known to a couple of Chesterfield generations as ‘Sir’ as he spent 35 years teaching at Old Hall Junior School.

They probably knew he had a passion for painting as he was the one who painted the scenery for school plays and he took charge of the art lessons.

What they may not know is that Mr Quick has become something of a celebrated artist,with his work shown at more than 30 galleries or shows since he retired.

“It was a great relief when I retired to suddenly be able to truly be myself,” he explained.

“When I was teaching one of the few outlets for me was the painting of the backcloths for the school plays in muddy powder paint after a long, hard day.”

Arwyn’s father had also been a teacher and he remembers as a child using his spare classroom register sheets and wartime coloured pencils to create pictures.

The talented youngster, who has lived in Chesterfield his whole life, was encouraged at his own primary school, Highfield Hall, and still remembers the joy at having a piece of his work pinned on the wall.

“Art was my best subject but I was forced to give it up so I could study a foreign language. Art was not considered academic enough then. I ended up training as a teacher but soon realised I didn’t want to be a secondary school teacher and took the post at Old Hall.

“I enjoyed developing art and design throughout the school and I eventually took evening classes at Chesterfield Art College to revive my personal artistic expression.”

It was at the college that tutor Paul Salt encouraged him to develop his style and eventually his watercolours became thicker and stronger and later he turned to acrylics on canvas and his now characteristic style was established.

“I have a passion for the sense of spaciousness evoked by the landscape in and around the Peak District and the North Cornwall coast.

“I use colour to reinforce the immediacy of those first impressions which hold our gaze and to emphasise the sense of place and spatial awareness. I am seeking to recreate the scene with a heightened sense of depth.”

Arwyn explained that he works from his own carefully composed photographs which he enhances in Photoshop and uses to give him the basic structure of the main areas to trace down onto the canvas.

His wife Janet, a recently ordained priest, has played an important part in encouraging him to show his work to a wider audience.

It was she who persuaded him to have a purpose built studio conversion in the loft (possibly to reclaim her dining table jokes Arwyn) and she who took him to arrange the galleries to show off his work.

“It was after one of these visits to the Pete Spowage Gallery in Nottingham, that I was surprised to come home with a cheque for £400.

“I realised then that painting was going to be more than a retirement stress-buster. It was a new beginning and it changed my life.”

Arwyn still has that first cheque framed and on the wall of his studio and he proudly points it out as you climb the steps into his world at the top of the house.

He is a prolific artist and his relatively tiny space is packed with his pictures. There are barns and fields, flowers and trees, the edges and tors.

His work has been in demand in Yorkshire, Nottingham and the West Country as well as here in Derbyshire. He has also been featured in several other magazines including Artists and Illustrators.

One question everyone asks him is will he use his teaching skills to pass on his talents in workshops or on courses? But the answer he says is that for now he wants to forget the stress of teaching and just concentrate on painting for himself.

“I am not able to go back there yet. I am just enjoying the painting and am so pleased that others are enjoying what I do.”

Arwyn’s work can always be seen at Leabrooks Gallery in Somercotes and he has a solo exhibition of his work there this month from the 14th-25th.

Go to http://www.leabrooksgallery.co.uk for more details about the exhibition and to http://www.saa.co.uk/art/arwynquick for more about his work.