PROFESSIONALLY SPEAKING

In the Picture

Fraser Scarfe

In this issue we step into the studio of artist Fraser Scarfe as he talks about his artistic journey 

I don't remember ever consciously deciding that I was going to become a painter - but nobody has told me to get a proper job yet, so I guess I’ll just keep going!

Lincoln 6, acrylic

I've been painting and drawing as long as I can remember, and while many kids my age were playing with toys and Lego, most of my childhood exploits and passions were committed to paper: Thunderbirds, Star Wars - you name it I drew it.

I was always labelled “the one who can draw” at school. I therefore got through tons of pencils but I don't really remember actually using paint until the age of 17 (and even then it was very cheap school grade acrylic), when we were asked by an art teacher to paint a local view.

I grew up in rural Lincolnshire and lived in a place surrounded by fantastic landscape, so it seemed natural for me to paint a view just a short walk from my house. I smeared some cheap acrylic around on a big canvas and my first landscape painting was completed.

Fraser's Exhibition

After school I did a foundation course at Lincoln College and then decided to apply to university. But during the application process I realised the contemporary art education system was not for me; in a world where concept is now the be all and end all, I think my work was considered to be too old fashioned and I failed to secure a place. Naturally I felt rather dejected but was determined to carry on painting whatever.

Edlington 34, pen and ink

I started making landscape paintings of the area close to my home, working in acrylic paint - really just as a way of bringing my painting skills up to scratch.

I showed some of these paintings to a local gallery owner who, to my surprise, offered me an exhibition on the spot. I now had a goal to work towards and I held my first solo exhibition in 2007.

The years 2008 to 2010 were roller-coaster ones for me and helped me make the jump from painting for fun to doing it on a more professional basis. I’d been an SAA member for a couple of years and, flicking through Paint one day, I realised that it was my last chance to enter the Artist of the Year 2008 competition, I hurriedly selected a few images and emailed them off, not giving it another thought.

The Nave, acrylic 

So imagine my surprise when the phone rang several months later and I was informed that – at the tender age of 23 - I had won Artist of the Year!

This gave me an enormous boost in confidence and things have been springing up ever since. In 2009 I became Artist in Residence at Lincoln Cathedral, described by Ruskin as "out and out our most precious piece of architecture" and spent a year at the Cathedral creating work inspired by the beautiful building.

This led to my second solo exhibition in 2010, which was an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience. In the same year I also received a last-minute invite to demonstrate at It's all about Art. I'd never done any demonstrating and I was incredibly nervous working with so many talented artists at the show, but I loved speaking with the many visitors and I've been teaching and demonstrating ever since. I've met so many incredible people doing this and the work has taken me all over the UK.

The Nave, acrylic 

My work is still evolving but I've always been inspired by the Lincolnshire landscape. I love the big skies and low horizon and I'll have strong words with anyone who says it’s flat and boring! I look at the work of other artists constantly but have always had a soft spot for Turner - the greatest painter this country has ever produced.

I think looking at other artists’ work is very important and spurs you on. I think it’s also important to stay true to the subjects that really fascinate you. If you've got a passion for what you're painting it helps you to push through those times when it all seems futile. Painting is not always easy, there are tough days and the studio can be a lonely environment; but I count myself incredibly lucky to be able to do something I'm so passionate about.

Edlington 40, acrylic

I think being in the studio is important: try to keep good working hours, and remember sometimes the days where you only drink tea and stare at the wall can be just as important as those when you’re painting constantly. I've never had any formal training and have learnt mainly through trial and error.

Fraser in his studio

Making mistakes is a great way to learn - you've got to embrace the fact that things will go wrong and use it to your advantage. You've also got to be willing to change everything, even if it means sacrificing hours of work.

Trees at Edlington 1

My own work is definitely still changing and I’m still eager to learn. I've recently moved to London to start a postgraduate course at the Princes Drawing School and am enjoying learning new skills and outstaying my welcome in the great galleries around the city. I can’t wait to see where painting will take me next.

London from Greenwich Park

Fraser is currently exhibiting in galleries in Lincoln and London and is available for demonstrations and workshops around the UK. Visit www.fraserscarfe.co.uk His DVD Interactive Acrylics with Fraser Scarfeis available through SAA Home Shop.  


PROFESSIONALLY SPEAKING

In the Picture

Fraser Scarfe

In this issue we step into the studio of artist Fraser Scarfe as he talks about his artistic journey 

I don't remember ever consciously deciding that I was going to become a painter - but nobody has told me to get a proper job yet, so I guess I’ll just keep going!

Lincoln 6, acrylic

I've been painting and drawing as long as I can remember, and while many kids my age were playing with toys and Lego, most of my childhood exploits and passions were committed to paper: Thunderbirds, Star Wars - you name it I drew it.

I was always labelled “the one who can draw” at school. I therefore got through tons of pencils but I don't really remember actually using paint until the age of 17 (and even then it was very cheap school grade acrylic), when we were asked by an art teacher to paint a local view.

I grew up in rural Lincolnshire and lived in a place surrounded by fantastic landscape, so it seemed natural for me to paint a view just a short walk from my house. I smeared some cheap acrylic around on a big canvas and my first landscape painting was completed.

Fraser's Exhibition

After school I did a foundation course at Lincoln College and then decided to apply to university. But during the application process I realised the contemporary art education system was not for me; in a world where concept is now the be all and end all, I think my work was considered to be too old fashioned and I failed to secure a place. Naturally I felt rather dejected but was determined to carry on painting whatever.

Edlington 34, pen and ink

I started making landscape paintings of the area close to my home, working in acrylic paint - really just as a way of bringing my painting skills up to scratch.

I showed some of these paintings to a local gallery owner who, to my surprise, offered me an exhibition on the spot. I now had a goal to work towards and I held my first solo exhibition in 2007.

The years 2008 to 2010 were roller-coaster ones for me and helped me make the jump from painting for fun to doing it on a more professional basis.

I’d been an SAA member for a couple of years and, flicking through Paint one day, I realised that it was my last chance to enter the Artist of the Year 2008 competition, I hurriedly selected a few images and emailed them off, not giving it another thought.

Fraser is currently exhibiting in galleries in Lincoln and London and is available for demonstrations and workshops around the UK. Visit www.fraserscarfe.co.uk His DVD Interactive Acrylics with Fraser Scarfeis available through SAA Home Shop.  

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