Meet the Artist
Award Winner Simon Young - Water Artist Extraordinaire
- Written by Vanessa Champion Vanessa Champion
Simon Young won our Strathmore Artist Papers Prize for work on paper at the Armed Forces Art Society (AFAS) annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries this year. Stunning, energetic, dramatic and full of energy the winning image lifts the viewer and puts you directly in the spray of the yacht as it races in front of you, you can almost taste the salt.
1. First of all congratulations on winning the AFAS prize, such a stunning piece. I heard that the decision as to which piece of yours they awarded it to was fought over! You'll be pleased to know that more than one piece was chosen! Can you tell us a bit about your background? You are former army?
I followed a full time career for 38 years in the Army and enjoyed it immensely. Sure there were some difficult times, but you always had your mates to rely on as you were always in it together. Classic team work stuff.
2. What got you into painting?
I started taking painting and drawing seriously when I was about 13. My parents used to take me and my brother to Sennen in Cornwall for the summer holidays. A friend of my mother, Betty - a lovely lady, had a fantastic house on the cliff tops overlooking the Cove. But more importantly when she discovered I was interested in sketching she sent me up into the attic rooms where I discovered masses of paintings and sketchbooks belonging to her deceased sister. My eyes were on beanstalks as I poured over her work – somewhat ashamedly, I can’t remember her name, but it was her work and sketching techniques that really got me going to be begin with. As a result I drew and painted little else but seascapes in my teenage years!
3. The series of paintings you submitted are all inspired by yacht racing? You mentioned something about the warm up race held at Plymouth which inspired the series? Can you tell us a bit more about how that happened?
Plymouth hosted one of sailing’s most prestigious competitions, The America’s Cup in July 2013. To watch the twin hulled, high tech, fast and nimble 45ft catamarans catapult across the Plymouth Sound was an unbelievable sight. I was lucky enough to get on board a local boat for a day complete with camera and sketchbook – it was a good day out being up-front and pretty close to these sailing machines crashing around the Sound. The crew of these craft are seriously athletic and place themselves in the most precarious positions. The whole experience, plus an interest in water effects (harping back to my teenage beachscapes) was very action-packed and inspirational – hence the series of 4.
4. Your brother is a sailor you said, you find inspiration there too? How do you capture the ideas? Do you sketch en plein air, take ref photos?
My brother is a keen and experienced sailor and moors his Dufour 28 on my mooring on the Tamar. When I’m on the boat it’s pretty difficult to sketch and nigh on impossible to paint due to the movement. But the camera captures my interest and to a certain extent the atmosphere on the river. That said I’m a keen exponent of plein air work – you simply can’t beat being out on the ground working away at a painting, or indeed sketching. I do a lot of it with my 2 cairn terrier dogs. The deal is to walk for at least an hour before finding somewhere to settle down for 2 hours or so for a painting session. And we’re spoilt for choice down here in Cornwall with plenty of estuaries, beaches, coastal pathways, harbour villages as well as the Moors.
5. This is not the only prize you've won, you recently won another at Patchings? Can you tell us what it was you won, and what image you entered?
I entered some work for the annual Patchings national competition run by The Artist and Leisure Painter magazines and was lucky enough to be told that one was to hang. I was then told a couple of weeks later that it had been selected for the Tony Hogan (professional and TV artist) Award. The painting was a watercolour of a couple of boats in the early morning on the foreshore of the River Tamar at the bottom of my garden called Coombe Creek Morning (image below).
6. You mentioned that you tried Strathmore paper years ago? Can you remember what you thought of it and also maybe share a little of that walking and sketching holiday?
I’m afraid I can’t remember too much about it, but I ran out of paper on one of my walking expeditions in the Lake District. It was in September and I had to find more paper so I could continue painting the magnificent autumnal scenery. My purchase of Strathmore Paper and a couple of sketchbooks saved the day.
7. What are you working on at the moment?
I’m preparing for the annual Open Studios event that my art group Drawn To The Valley runs every year. This year I’m supporting the charity, Alabaré and specifically it’s Plymouth Home for Veterans. Proceeds from the Private View and sales from the week will go in that direction. As a former member of the Armed Forces I usually support the Army Benevolent Fund, The Soldiers’ Charity, but Alabaré is a little closer to home for this year. Due to recent sales and commissions I’m up against the clock to ensure I’ve got enough decent stuff on the studio walls by the end of the month.
8. Heaven forbid it should happen, but what item in your studio would you rescue and why?
It has to be my Craig Young paint box – it took over a year to arrive having ordered it, but the wait was worth it. Handmade it’s very special.
9. And a bit of fun we always ask, if you were a Strathmore paper, which one would you be and why?
I’d either be a Gemini Rough or Cold Press. I love painting on both surfaces and I’m pretty certain the Rough will impress when I try it. I’m very much looking forward to working with it and will let you know how I get on!
10.What is your website, Facebook page, twitter and any other links you would like to share with us and our readers?
Thanks for this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself and a huge thank you to Strathmore Artist Papers; the generous Artist Papers Prize for this year’s Armed Forces Exhibition will be put to good use. My contact details are set out below. www.simonyoungart.com