I've been painting and drawing all my life. I spent a year at Leeds College of Art in the 1960s, but found that the approach was too unstructured and went off to study Russian and Latin at Edinburgh University instead! This led to a Ph.D. in Byzantine Art at Cambridge. I feel that the strong colours and clear rhythmic lines of Byzantine mosaic and fresco have influenced my work ever since.
Now I teach part-time at Sheffield Hallam University, and as I approach retirement, I'm enjoying spending more time on my art work. I've refreshed my skills through several workshops with artists I admire, and although I still have a lot to learn, I feel I have found my own style, realised through an unconventional mix of ink applied with sticks, wax-resist with oil pastel, aquarelle and watercolour. Sometimes it's difficult to use all these media together, as I work directly from nature, often in remote places, perched on crags or from the heaving deck of a small sailing boat. If the weather or location make this impractical, I make a quick field sketch with pen and coloured pencil, then use this as the basis of a painting in the more comfortable surroundings of my small studio. Here I try out various colour combinations before deciding on a very narrow range of pigments, mixing all the shades and tones from three or four basic colours. You can see some of these workings and experiments in my sketchbooks. I try to capture the mood, ruggedness and varied colours of our local Peak District, with the texture of rock, moorland and individual plants. At sea, I love the contrast of water textures and colours with the rough rocks of shoreline and cliffs, particular in the small remote islands of the West Coast of Britain.
In September 2013 I had the opportunity to voyage in the High Arctic on a tall ship, which offered an inspirational landscape of bare rock mountains and sinuous glaciers down to the sea, all in the amazing ice-blue and sunset colours of polar latitudes.