How I became an Artist
My career in Art started quite promisingly; at the age of seven I won a pencil-case in a primary school painting competition. Despite this, at my next school (KCS Wimbledon), I managed to fail my Art O-level, and I only just scraped through my Art A-level.
At University (Ruskin School of Drawing / Magdalen College, Oxford) I painted mostly portraits and figures, despite the best efforts of the tutors to turn me into an Abstract Expressionist.
After University, I lived in Germany for a year, working on building sites and teaching English, before deciding that I wanted to be a painter. I bought a beaten-up old van, filled it with art materials, and spent the next few years driving around Europe teaching myself to paint landscapes.
The highlight of this period of time was a year spent in Tarquinia, a beautiful medieval village north of Rome. I devoted myself to painting almost everything I saw, and I financed myself by drawing street portraits.
Back in London, after a brief spell of teaching Art in schools, I began to realise I needed to work harder at selling my paintings. Getting on the gallery ladder seemed a pretty daunting task, but an American friend of mine came to London, and showed me how to do it, breezing into a gallery in Kensington and securing us a two-man exhibition.
This was the breakthrough I needed. It gave me the confidence to believe it might be possible for me to make a living as an artist!