I’m currently based in Ashford, Kent, although originally from Plymouth, a city with a strong military heritage; which is why joining up seemed the natural choice. When I was growing up, there wasn’t much in the way of opportunity for young people. It was either work in the dockyard or join the military. I joined the Army in 1984 where I had a long and varied career serving all around the world including the Falkland Islands, mainland Europe, Bosnia and Kosovo, Northern Ireland and the Far East to name a few. On leaving the Army, I focused on a career in Learning and Development, mainly coaching managers and leaders. This line of work, however, wasn’t really doing it for me and so I decided to give something back; continuing my coaching journey, but this time helping those trying to overcome trauma, physical pain and damaging thinking patterns. I have done this in some shape or form for decades now. Drawing is a tool I often use.
Drawing has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. In recent years I have used drawing combined with mindfulness to improve my own mental health as well as many others. There is a special gift that drawing gives us and for me, it’s being able to focus on just one thing at that one moment in time. When I’m drawing, time is immaterial. Hours pass without any intrusive thoughts entering my mind. To help with this meditative process, I tend to draw finely detailed pieces. I love to be able to get right into the detail, represent things in the most realistic way and discover those things only really close looking can see.
It has always been an ambition of mine to copy one of the great painters of the past and so I decided to have a go at the Waterloo Cartoon that Daniel Maclise painted in the House of Lords back in the 19th century. In his planning he meticulously pencilled out the final piece in a series of panels that he pasted together. This is known as The Waterloo Cartoon and it’s this that I’ve attempted to replicate. I hope it draws you closer and I hope it inspires you to have a go at drawing.
The original painting still exists within the House of Lords and measures nearly 14m long! My version is hanging in the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock, Oxford. I was inspired by the artist’s meticulous attention to detail. It soon became apparent to me that the only way to see all of this detail and to learn how it was created was to jump directly into the artist’s shoes – of course the only way to do this was to draw it myself. The reproduction took me 14 months to complete off and on. It was a journey of discovery, not only of the finer details one would only notice by drawing it, but in myself. I would never have thought that I would have had the patience to complete a piece this detailed, this accurate and this large!
I also chose to draw The Waterloo Cartoon because I like a challenge. As an artist, there is no point in churning out the same stuff day in day out – where’s the fun in that? Art is all about having a go; it’s the process of creating and learning as you go along. I was never really any good at drawing horses, so as you can see, this was definitely a challenge. On the plus side, I can now draw horses – on the negative side, I don’t really want to draw another one for while!
As you look through my work here, I hope it inspires you to have a go yourself. I’d be happy to come with you on your journey of artistic discovery, so feel free to follow on the socials and we can share. Remember, it’s about the journey. Good luck!