My Garden Studio

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I built my large wooden studio in our garden more than 30 years ago. I previously had a number of productive and happy years sharing a studio in Holborn with Graham Crowley, Vanessa Jackson and others. But when the men in suits with laser rulers came round we knew our days in the studio were numbered. The building owned by the church was to be converted to flats. So with the help of a few friends, including very fortuitously a master carpenter and an architect, I decided to build my own.

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It is now, like me, steadily biodegrading but I still love every minute of working in there. The light comes from windows on one side of the pitched roof facing north giving a beautiful even light with no direct sun. It occupies our garden alongside studios of my wife Betty who is a potter.

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I use a wide range of brushes, rollers, sponges etc. Many of the brushes are old friends that each play a special part in my painting process.

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I use acrylic paint in various consistencies, from tube, jar and made up myself in many containers.

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My paintings are begun stapled to the floor before being transferred to the wall for further work. The floor is wooden and covered by layers of old paintings which have bitten the dust and been discarded as failures over the years, taken off their stretchers and recycled.

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I think I am one of the few left still making my own stretchers. There are others, Gill Ingham a fellow London Group member told me she still does. A “skill” taught in my early days at Colchester School of Art that has stayed with me ever since. I like the idea of the whole painting being made by me from start to finish.

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This is one of my studio chairs that has been with me throughout the ups and downs of making art for more than 30 years. “Borrowed” from the Royal College restaurant in 1975 after end of course drunken revelries and taken home on the top deck of a bus. It has been with me in various studios since and bears the evidence of many paint spatters and splashes.

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David Wiseman / The Rowley Gallery

Frames of reference
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8 Responses to My Garden Studio

  1. ck says:

    Have you told us of your struggle to become able to work.
    I am at midlife and still stuck being yelled at in a factory
    with D students, after years of education at night. It feels like
    maybe it is not meant to be and so much time wasted in between.
    I see here what I cannot explain when asked why I went to school for art.
    Thank you,

    • These are amongst the things i have done in my life to allow me to paint. Worked in a horrible bar five nights a week, taught adult education, worked for a violin dealer, taught degree students part time for many years, made a series of public art murals in hospitals, worked for cloth dealers in London, sold paintings but it’s inconsistent, etc. etc. some of these were labours of love and some very much not. We had two children and life as an artist can be a struggle as you say with many years in the past living on an overdraft. Many ups and downs. The studio was built from recycled factory timber. But it’s all worth it. I hope you find a way out to pursue your art more easily. Best wishes and good luck David

  2. Paul Finn says:

    I’ve heard that the RCA are looking for borrowed furniture David. What a great blog entry. Like you I rented shared spaces, then worked at home in small rooms and cold sheds, until a few years ago had a purpose built studio built at the bottom of my garden. It is a joy and a privilege to work in there.

  3. Sue Shepherd says:

    Your studio is wonderful, and I love the chair story! It’s lovely how old chairs contain the most interesting stories! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Not only do you make beautiful paintings on home-made stretchers in a hand-built studio, but you forgot to mention you also frame them yourself too!

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