My inspiration to paint comes from the landscape around where I live. Born in Oxford in 1949, on the edge of Otmoor, a tract of low lying marshland, I have always appreciated the countryside and its wildlife. The skies over Otmoor are huge and fleeting, changing the mood as the clouds cast shadows on this damp ground. In winter the storm clouds bring rain to swell the streams and ditches resulting in extensive flooding that reflects the sky and willows, creating new ideas for paintings. Wildfowl pour in from the colder regions of Europe and settle in to spend the season on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reserve that has been created on former arable land. In summer the haunting cry of the curlew is heard and the myriad butterflies and insects hover in the long grasses. It all combines to fashion a scene that is true inspiration for the landscape artist.
Leaving school at 15, to work on the family farm with my twin brother, it seemed I was destined to be a farmer. Then, at the age of 23, I came across someone sitting at an easel painting. He was depicting a galleon in full sail and made it look quite easy. I was very fascinated and reaching home looked out some old paints from my schooldays. Inspired to have a go I was hooked and spent every spare moment painting. I found that I possessed a latent flair for art and from then on painting took over my life.
At first I used acrylic and oil paints but then gradually moved over to watercolour which I find perfect for depicting the often misty, enigmatic landscape of Otmoor. After a few years of exhibiting my work at local shows I began having one man exhibitions in Oxford and The County Museum in Woodstock. The museum holds one of my paintings in its archives. I also held shows in The Danish Club in Knightsbridge which were very successful. After submitting paintings to The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour one was accepted for their annual exhibition in The Mall Galleries. A very proud achievement.
Although Otmoor and its environs are the greatest part of my work, I also enjoy other subjects such as cityscapes and buildings from various trips around Europe. I have been especially inspired in Poland, which I find a fascinating place, especially in the rich architecture of the cities and the rich rustic life in the rural areas. I want to capture it before it becomes too modernised.
I have painted in New Zealand, Australia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the USA. A trip to China a few years ago was fruitful for new subjects. My paintings are in private collections around the world.
I am given a number of commissions each year and recently completed one for The Oxford University Press Office in Hong Kong to mark their 50th anniversary and ealier for Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to celebrate ten years of the Otmoor reserve'.
I hold two exhibitions each year. One in May as part of Artweeks – the Oxfordshire Artist’s Festival and the other in November, both at my home. I also exhibit in other local shows around Oxfordshire.
My inspiration to paint comes from the landscape around where I live
"Mr North is especially
expert at contriving compelling compositions from the branches of black, skeletal tree branches set against rain drenched or moonlit skies"
The Oxford Times
Cutting a mount and framing the picture
The finished picture: Stubble fields near Islip