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Watching Paint Dry 50 years of Painting & the Galloway Landscape

William Neal


Born in Guildford, William Neal studied at the Guildford School of Art, and followed a diverse career in the graphic arts, working for the BBC, Pitman Publishing and C.C.S Associates. He worked with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, producing cover designs for the two million-selling albums ‘Tarkus’ and ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. From 1971 he concentrated on painting full time and met Stefan Knapp, an internationally famous enamellist and painter, becoming his studio assistant in 1978. Stefan’s influence laid the basis for all of William’s subsequent work. The theme of peace, colour and harmony permeates all of his paintings, many of which depict, in watercolour, the Galloway landscape by moonlight. His paintings continue to be instantly recognisable and enthusiastically collected. To date over 6000 limited edition prints have been sold. Today William works from his studio in Dumfries and Galloway.

Cover photographs by kimayres.co.uk


Watching Paint Dry 50 years of Painting

& the Galloway Landscape

William Neal “Art is never finished, only abandoned� Leonardo da Vinci

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Photography by kimayres.co.uk

Watching Paint Dry 50 years of Painting & the Galloway Landscape Editorial Team: Joyce Watson and Ian Cochrane. Design/Typography: Ken Smyth Š William Neal 2011 www.williamneal.co.uk

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Foreword Will’s art gave Emerson Lake and Palmer its substance: a visual substance that allowed those that listened to become more involved in listening ‌ and listen. His new work goes beyond the boldness of his original art with us by being delicate, thoughtful and bold. There is something magical about that. They all have a unique translucent luminous quality, which William defines so well and has made his own. Keith Emerson

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“A Fine Line”, Acrylic on board, 42” x 42”

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Introduction “Isn’t it time you had a retrospective exhibition?” a gallery owner asked. The thought filled me with horror – to date, I’ve had over fifty exhibitions. “You’ve been painting in Scotland now for over thirty years; your work has undergone many changes – people would find that interesting,” he went on. I still decided against a retrospective – but he got me thinking about how long I’d been working in Galloway, and I put together a talk called “30 Years After – an Observation of the Galloway Landscape and Painting 1981-2011”, which was given at the Old Bank Bookshop at the Wigtown Spring Weekend in 2011. I was encouraged to put it into book form; there is, in fact, a ‘retrospective exhibition’ feel about the book, and I felt it would make sense to mention my early years and give a glimpse of art school in the 1960s, record cover design in the 1970s and to talk about the insight given to me by my friend and mentor, the late Polish artist Stefan Knapp, during the 1980s. My background in the visual arts involves murals, BBC set design, graphic design, publishing, illustration, enamelling, music and painting, and I do not see myself in any particular category, or as an authority on the subject of art, but I do refer to some of the methods I use in the process of painting and how I approach a given visual subject. I hope these words and pictures will show how the landscape and spirit of Galloway have touched my life and taught me so much over the past thirty years. This recollection of events, and selection of paintings compiled into book form, allows me the opportunity to say thank you to all who have made this publication possible: Joyce Watson and Ian Cochrane for the editorial; Ken Smyth for the complete oversight of design to publication; Brian Dunce my long time friend and former tutor at the Guildford School of Art; Stefan and Cathy Knapp for their outstanding support and guidance within the visual arts; the many friends, galleries and collectors over the years who have continued to show an interest in my work; the late Dorothy and Willam Neal for believing in their son’s dreams. And, of course, my dear wife Penny.

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Early Days The village of Bramley is just outside the city of Guildford in Surrey. My home was ‘Oakdene’, Station Road. Today you can search all the hours there are, up and down that road, and you will never find it. I watched them knock it down when I was 25. It was a bright, sunny day and a small crowd had gathered to watch the demolition. The front of the old Victorian house had gone, and for a moment, high up for all to see, a mural I had painted on my bedroom wall as a youngster was exposed to the sunlight. I had never seen it look so good. Then, suddenly, it was no more. Deep down, if we are honest with ourselves, we would like to make some kind of mark in the world. It was always a passion of mine to see the works of the great masters: how they achieved this vision and technical excellence. I remember saying that I would love someone to stare at one of my paintings for ages and wonder how it was done. That kind of technical ability seemed beyond me though – how do you follow Rembrandt or Picasso? It’s like going on stage with a tin whistle after a night at the Proms or the Beatles. As a toddler I knew it was wrong to write on walls, on the insides of books and especially with ballpoint pen on our white cat Snowy. I was possibly 3 then, and tiny fingers were pointing towards the arts. By the time I was 5, a drawing of mine was published in the Dental Journal showing a huge drill, great big lights and several matchstick men surrounding the dentist’s chair: I so wish I still had that tiny record in time right now. The kids at school would get me to draw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and all manner of cartoon characters. In my early childhood I had a pronounced stammer, yet it didn’t seem to matter much when I was drawing. Kids, being kids, though, often made fun of it. As a result, I withdrew whenever possible into my own comfort zone of make-believe. Drawing and painting gave me a voice; pencils and brushes were my friends. I wanted to talk like the others and be accepted, so putting my thoughts into pictures was my passport to acceptance.

William aged 4.

Painting was always fun. If you are old enough to remember the primitive powder paints that were dragged out of the art cupboard in the early 1950s, you may remember the strange odour they gave off. It was a pungent mixture of bleach, carbolic and an odd mustiness. The minute I smelt the paint, I knew we were in for a great time. Before long, the classroom was awash with frenzied activity. Great pools of paint were swirled over 6


sodden paper, blue being dunked in red – pure white was a rare find, since the pot had been dibbed many times over with a multitude of eager brushes. We flicked it, dribbled it and left dollops of the stuff on seats for the unwary. Finally, when the finished artwork had been drip-dried over radiators, all smudged, brittle and finger-marked, the entire battered tragedy was rolled up, rubber-banded and taken home to show Mum and Dad. Alas, the vast majority of what dry paint remained had reverted to its powder state due to a lack of binder in the pigment. A fine dust of multi-colours had come to rest on just about everything it should not have done around the home and on our clothes. Incredible as it may seem, some pictorial content managed to survive and boasted a silver or gold star stuck on it back at school. Some even got prizes, and were later tightly rolled up again, used as swords on the way home and proudly pinned on the bedroom wall. All that from a few tins of smelly powder paint: that’s value. This then was my first real recollection of watching paint dry. I don’t recall saying “I’m going to be an artist when I grow up.” It just struck me as odd that many kids simply didn’t like art or just mucked about during the art class. I was totally absorbed. One day at secondary school (I was about 14) our art teacher, Mr Burgess, put on the record player Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev, narrated by Sir Ralph Richardson, and we were encouraged to paint whatever came into our heads. It remains a defining point in my life My school reports, however, were an ongoing disaster. If they had taught dreaming I would have been top of the class. How was I going to make a living? Where was the ‘proper job’ that Dad wanted me to have? This was still the era of ‘apprenticeship and gold watch.’ “Learn a trade for life, Billy” was Dad’s constant cry. My other growing passion was music, mostly listening to it, though I could play the harmonica, having been given the finest start by an uncle of mine playing in a well-loved harmonica trio, The Three Monarchs. They had a regular feature on TV at that time – Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Fishing was another love, but painting, blowing a mouth organ and sitting on a river bank didn’t make for a compelling CV: I was completely unprepared for the end of school. This must have been painfully obvious to my parents. In desperation my Dad said I should be an apprentice sign-writer. The outcome at the job interview, though, came as a complete surprise to both of us. Neither of us expected my potential boss to say “Your 7


boy won’t stay with me five minutes, Mr Neal: he should go to art school”. The obvious was being pointed out and with all due respect to Dad and Mum, they looked into the prospect with great care. At length, they both agreed it was as good as it was going to get. Dad’s parting shot of approval was: “God help us if we ever have another war!” Art school – I was abuzz. But I still had to qualify to get in, and apart from a folder of drawings and cartoons, that was it. I had no GCEs. Fortunately for me at that time a prelim enrolment course of one year was available: if I passed the exam, a three year Diploma in Art and Design was on the horizon. I worked frantically to get a bulging folder of work together in the three weeks before the prelim exam. One of my favourite spots to work outside was in Wonersh Park, a short walk from my home. Here, propped against the old park wall at the far end of the grounds, I could draw and paint the trees. It served several purposes – there was an abundance of things to draw, I could smoke without being seen, and above me, music often came from one of the open windows. This was no ordinary music – certainly not the sounds of Alma Cogan, Elvis or Freddie and the Dreamers: this was raw blues and jazz, and I loved it. I hadn’t a clue who the artists were – but I was soon to find out. A former student of Guildford Art School, called Brian Dunce, lived just above where I always came to work in the park by the wall. I knew it was a studio above, and sometimes saw easels and paintings, though never any sign of life except the music. Then, on one blisteringly hot afternoon, a friendly bearded face yelled down from the window, “Would you like a drink? You’re very busy. That look’s interesting – let’s have a look at what you’re up to.” I didn’t hesitate – it was only when I reached his door that the enormity of the situation came upon me. In the past, the only people who had ever seen my work were friends and family – to have my work seen by a ‘real artist’ was instantly mortifying, yet I had to go in. I will never forget the smell of coffee and French cigarettes, linseed oil and turpentine as I climbed the stairs. The studio was enormous, with huge skylights. There seemed to be endless pots and tubes of paint, much of which had found itself on the furniture and floor. Paintings were everywhere. In fact, there was no room to sit down, despite the large working space. From this afternoon on, I knew exactly what I wanted in life: I wanted to be an artist. Brian was instrumental in guiding me. His encouragement worked wonders at a pivotal point in my life, and he made me realise that it was essential to accept criticism. I passed the exam to art school. 8


Art School The year was 1963. Big Bill Broonzy, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson – that was some line-up to hear at a blues festival, one to queue all night for in the pouring rain, just to hear them play, let alone get a glimpse of them. It only took a few months at art school to completely pick up on the roots of what raw sounds the sixties were blowing in. And Dylan was everywhere hastening that change. Music had amazing power and so did the visual images that supported it. For someone like me, brought up on a diet of Children’s Favourites waiting patiently to hear Cliff and the Shadows, only to be let down again by endless repeats of the Yellow Rose of Texas or A Four-Legged Friend, art school was, undeniably on all levels, a major shock to the system. Elvis with his meanest hat on was instantly nowhere. Even the Stones had to keep up! The aforementioned Howlin’ Wolf and all the great blues men had it all. Art schools had it written in the script to be radical, and the sixties gave free rein to that side of life. We really thought we could be a part of that change, and the leading edge was the place to be. The sixties had so many movements clamouring to be heard: Pop Art, Op Art – Psychedelia was waiting in the wings. Art school was not a place for the faint-hearted. As a first-year student at Guildford School of Art, you found the door was gaping open to enter and discover just what you were made of. As a link for this book, and as a pattern in my life, it was music again that had the first impact on me, not paintings, as you might expect. There were jazz clubs, parties and the odd busker in the studios, or, on fine days, in the grounds of the Old Stoke Mansion. What a magnificent integral part of the art school that enormous mansion was – the basements held a jazz club and juke joint-cum-common-room, which somehow, despite the ongoing studies, had someone inevitably listening to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters or Charlie Parker. Failing that, the piano, a wonderful old upright Bechstein, was being lovingly boogied by a vast array of 12-bar-blues buffs, myself included. The late Duster Bennett, a student, astounded us all with his raw and heartfelt compositions. Top Topham, a former member of the Yardbirds, would join in and there were other outstanding sessions by Hog Snort Rupert and his band. Dick Forcey, the drummer of Phillip Goodhand Tait and the Stormsville Shakers was also a student at that time. Andy Latimer of the Phantom 4, later to be the founder of the prog-rock band Camel, played along with the Smokestakks, a six-piece blues band I played in. There was always music. Even the tutors came to the jazz clubs. 9

Art School End of Term Poster, Silk-screen


But we did some serious painting too. “A veritable cocktail of earthly delights!” was a description of one of the fine art studios. The atmosphere was as informal as it could get, without fragmenting its purpose – as many as three or four tutors could be in the studios at any one time, creating a sense of urgency and spontaneity. We were very keen to see the kind of work our tutors painted, and it didn’t take us long to find out that they all had complete freedom of speech. From day one, visiting exhibitions and regular group sessions of criticism opened us all up to constructive self-examination. It gradually became apparent, through the many lectures, that our perception of form and colour is deceptive – there was a huge unlearning process that had to be undergone, sometimes painfully, in order to get to grips with ‘seeing’ , rather than just looking at our given subject. This procedure becomes second-nature. It’s liberating and can only be described in purely personal terms, and the manner in which we choose to produce the painting or drawing itself – but if we allow it to become set in its ways or taken for granted, it will begin to show in our ability to express ourselves in a meaningful way. I became very frustrated with oil paint. I love quick results and though it is lovely to handle, oil is not a fast medium to use. And then the new acrylic paint was delivered to the art school. It was received with deep suspicion by many – it was water-based and smelt odd and there was a noted lack of colour range; it dried too fast and the colour value shifted from wet to dry. It was not popular. I loved it. Here was a passport to speed, but just like riding a fast motorcycle, you had to commit on the deceptive bends and stick with it – my first real study of watching paint dry was under way. It did dry too fast and this had to be balanced with loose, quick areas and plenty of wetting – it even dried up on the palette and had to be squirted with water. Brushes would be rendered useless in no time should you forget to pop them immediately into individual wet pots – but despite its quirkiness, and the obvious disapproval of the majority, I felt a complete affinity with it.

“Heavy Metal Fruit”, Album Cover Design

Art school helped me realise that life in the visual arts was going to be a bumpy ride. It was a place of extremes, showing that ‘extremes’ had their place: extreme examination and research, along with long moments of contemplation and silence behind an easel. The rock lyric from Trilogy – The Endless Enigma, by Emerson Lake & Palmer, in part states, “Each part was played, but the play was not shown, everyone came but they all sat alone.” This represents much of an artist’s work: it never sees the light of day, all of it played out in the mind and studio. Alone. 10


My first year at art school had come to an end. An agonising crossroads had arrived: was it to be Fine Art or Graphic Design? Was painting going to put bread on the table? Had I the dedication to endure? Although I loved painting, I was surrounded by talented students who were prepared to work in a cold studio, quite resolved to go without for their beliefs. Struggling in a harsh world while labouring behind an easel over a painting that refused to come good, was all part of the lengthy process called Fine Art, and I could not reconcile within myself, having come that far as an artist (and with so much still to find out) only to give it up. But much of my attention was taken up by all the music and its accompanying media. Poster art and powerful graphics had great appeal and much of my thinking was quite naturally that way inclined. Much to the dismay of many of my fellow students, I opted for a three-year diploma course in Graphic Design and continued to play in a blues band. Little did I realise that in a few years I would find myself in an unheated studio with only the bare essentials of life, struggling with a painting that refused to come good. But the graphic-design choice was a good one – it brought a great many things into focus, and to some extent, painting still played its part. Graphics was seen as a sell-out to commercialism. I didn’t really see it that way: it was more a different path in the same garden. It was very clear that a good grounding in printing and photography was essential, but my area of greatest interest was still in the painting/illustration side. And here a fascinating piece of equipment came into my life: an airbrush. Fast, versatile, and incredibly exacting in execution and finish, it had a feel and style all of its own, laying paint in the most perfect gradations or in flat, broader areas of colour. You could even draw with it. It came with an enormous amount of baggage though: it was prone to clog and sputter, the fine mechanism needed care and patience, and perhaps worst of all, it was considered by many to be a gimmick, and like the early acrylic paints, dismissed as slick and not to be taken seriously. I immediately bought one. I had spent most of my student grant on an old Austin A35 van, so I got a loan from the bank. The airbrush cost over £100, which was big money then. Yet I just had to have one (the art school airbrush was sadly misused and often clogged up). It had a huge DeVilbiss air compressor that puttered noisily just a few feet away, and drove an Aerograph Super 63 airbrush. I still have the airbrush – the compressor died a short while back and is now an exhibit at an art-materials shop in Guildford.

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“Catfish and the Droplets”, Rock Band Poster


The graphics course satisfied my desire to produce posters for rock bands, opening up a whole new appreciation of visual communication. My attention was also drawn to water-based paint still further – the range of colour available in watercolour is simply stunning. Having gained a Diploma in Art and Design, like most students leaving art school, I figured I would walk the first job interview. After countless interviews, I was still walking.

William, early ‘70s

“Flower Power Austin A35 Van”, Final Year Diploma Project, 1968.

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Rock Album Cover Design Leaving art school was a crushing anti-climax – there was little or no work to be had as an illustrator or designer unless you had plenty of work experience. Prospective design groups and advertising agencies, in the main, would, out of kindness or curiosity, arrange to see what was coming out of art school, but the all too common response was “Come back and see us when you have work experience – good luck!” To make matters worse, I had just left the Smokestakks Blues Band. Their decision to consider going professional was not compatible with my career as an artist, and reluctantly we parted company. Becoming self-employed seemed the only plausible way out. The ‘flower-power’ van I had painted at art school proved a strong visual aid in getting work. Cars, fashionable boutiques, hair salons and clubs, now had psychedelic images all over them. And that’s exactly what I focused on. Before long, there was enough money to go on a long-promised fishing holiday in Ireland. And as it turned out, I was to catch more than fish on my trip: I landed my first job in Belfast. I gained a part-time teaching post for Basic Design at the Belfast School of Art. Not long after this, I was also working for a design company who were contracted by BBC TV Belfast, producing set designs and subtitles. I became adept at slick, hand-written horse-racing results, cartoon captions and weather charts; it was fun, but after about a year, the pull of the South Bank, the National Gallery and all the buzz of Carnaby Street, made life in Belfast seem just that bit too remote, and hearing all the news about the bands playing at the clubs I used to visit (especially The Marquee in London) I came home. But Ireland had given me an important meal ticket: work experience. And a newfound colour to my palette: confidence. Soon I was working for Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons in London – a long-established book publishers with urgent need for cover design and illustration. It sounded great. It was a busy place with plenty to do, but it felt a bit too confining and somewhat predictable with repetition always high on the menu: “Here’s another book” (oh well…fancy that!); “You can use three colours on this one” (really?…wow!). I learnt a fair bit about publishing, which was a real asset, but all the while, someone else could have done it far better and enjoyed it. Then an advertisement in Time Out magazine had me rushing for a pen: “Visualiser/ Designer for Recording Industry Promotion at CCS Advertising Associates.” The in13

“Fish Face”, Album Cover Design. 1971.


terview was to be held in Great Chapel Street just round the corner from Soho Square above a sandwich shop. People were queuing all around and up the stairs. It was only when I had run up to the top of the stairs that I felt something was not quite right. Straightaway, the door in front of me swung open and I was invited in. Two weary figures, who turned out to be Alan Smith and Dave Herbet, flipped through my entire folder in seconds. To my astonishment, Alan asked me how soon I could start. I stayed with them that Friday afternoon, and a month’s trial was already under way. My jumping the queue was an honest mistake: everyone must have thought I worked there. It was the biggest break of my life. Within the first month at CCS, Alan had taken on two more artists. There were seven of us now, including a receptionist/secretary and a messenger boy on a moped. By the time I left two years later, CCS was a leading London design agency employing over fifty people. After only six months, we had all moved from the west end of the city, further north to Chalk Farm – and a huge industrial warehouse was quickly turned into a studio of dreams, larger than all the studios at art school. This was serious square footage of creativity. Our clients were essentially the high numbers of the music business: Island Records, Trojan, A & M, Charisma, Chrysalis and E G Management. We all had a fervent desire to produce the highest quality graphics imaginable: it was what we were trained for and loved to do, and I can confidently say that anyone who was around in the late sixties and early seventies would have seen our work in all the full-page ads of the music press and in related publicity material, which included album cover artwork. It was a great mix of being pretty laid-back, while retaining a highly organised focus on how musicians and the public would communicate. We all felt we had a significant voice in what was going on then. All this was well before digital art, mobile phones and the internet. Artwork had to work really hard and be exceptionally good to have any chance of success. And there was a lot of it about! “Toy Boat”, Album Cover Design. 1972.

The vast majority of finished artwork was produced on beautiful quality card – Daler Superline, and to my mind the very best in the world: CS10 media 6, made originally by Colyer and Southey. It went out of production due to lack of demand caused directly by computer graphics ten years or so ago. The degree of finish on these surfaces with ink 14


or water-based paint was remarkable, especially if you just happened to be using, as your weapon of choice – an airbrush! At CCS, it was well known that anyone even standing near mine went instantly to jail. This was where some of the most exacting laying down of colour could be done. It was my turf. The card would be prepared for painting by using a powder called ‘Pounce’, which was gently wiped all over the card with a soft cloth, kept in its very own box under lock and key. An airbrush would lay down such a perfect swathe of colour that any grease, scratch or rogue mark would ultimately show through. You would become an ace fingerprint expert in no time. This care and attention had to be scrupulously maintained: the rewards were priceless. Combine all this preparatory work with sustained control of the height, speed and pressure from the airbrush, and an even consistency of liquid colour spraying from the gun, and you will get the best example of colour applied by hand imaginable. There are various ‘bolt-on goodies’ available to give you texture where you want it. All it takes is practice, and instrumental to the entire process, of course, is watching the paint dry!

William and “The Endless Enigma” at Devonshire Studios, Chiswick, 1971.

Our major work projects concerned the Island Records subsidiary label Trojan. Sca and Bluebeat had made inroads into the charts earlier, but Reggae suddenly had an enormous following. At the height of the Reggae boom we produced three album covers a week – there was so much work, a special photo-shoot was organised in Jamaica. This was a wonderful, colourful time; our studios had an ever growing Reggae Hall of Fame, with finished album covers along the walls as you entered the premises. The mix of sounds throughout the studio was an experience in itself: one moment Jimmy Cliff or Bob and Marcia, the next Jethro Tull or Mott the Hoople. Progressive rock artwork was new to us. The bands often had their own ideas or favourite artists and some attempted the artwork themselves. It was clear that the concept album, with paintings complementing the music resonated not only with the musicians, but with a broad spectrum of the public. The Moody Blues and Yes are prime examples along with Emerson Lake and Palmer. ELP were having problems with a suitable image for their second album and their management approached us to come up with something. Here’s an extract from the unedited version I sent Classic Rock Magazine for a feature in their June 2011 issue: …I don’t remember all the finished ideas we produced, though I do remember mine. It was a World War One machine-gun with keyboard keys as a belt of bullets and other 15

“The Endless Enigma”, Album Cover Design. Designers gouache on CS10 board. 26” x 18”. 1971.


heavy engines of war to depict the thunder of ELP’s music as I saw it then. All of the finished ideas had the usual presentation covers on them to protect the artwork underneath. Quite absentmindedly, possibly with the World War One thoughts still in my mind of armour and tanks, I did what people like me do.

“Tarkus Poster”.

Armour was a tenuous link with ‘armadillo’ in my unconscious and while I was talking on the phone I doodled, very small in pencil, an armadillo with tank tracks on one of the presentation covers. This was not intended as part of the presentation. Had I been aware that I had unintentionally defaced a piece of artwork, I would have had a fit and recovered the presentation pack. As it turned out, it slipped in undetected by the reps from CCS. I have no idea where the presentation took place. Anyhow, all of the finished ideas were rejected by the band. But Keith spotted the armadillo and realised its potential straightaway. I was asked to develop the little chap further and meet the band. This I did with considerable enthusiasm, and a much more detailed armadillo was drawn up, with Dave Herbet and myself taking the artwork to Greg’s flat in Chelsea. This was the first time I had met the band. It was obvious the idea had grown even more with Keith. Greg was also very enthusiastic, asking for the image to be made even meaner, as he felt the armadillo looked too friendly. As a result, I heard the acetate that very night of Keith’s new composition, which he called Tarkus. Keith wanted the idea expanded to various parts of the music. I was kindly given an acetate of Tarkus to listen to as I produced the theme of the painting with all of the finished music. If an armadillo can have tank tracks, what’s to stop a pterodactyl having guns or a lizard missiles? The door was open for all sorts of creatures, notably, ‘manticore’, which was entirely Keith’s. As often happens with concepts like this, we ended up with too much material. A plethora of weird creatures had to be discarded.

“Tarkus Album Cover”, Emerson Lake and Palmer. No.1 in the album charts, 1971. Designers Gouache on CS10 board.

At the time, I was vaguely aware that part of the concept had biblical connotations: the name Tarkus came partly from ‘Tartarus,’ 2 Peter 2:4. This is a place of deep spiritual darkness, devoid of forgiveness, a fitting symbol for the futility of war, which was powerfully portrayed in the lyrics of Stones of the Years. Destruction and death were mirrored in the term ‘carcass’. Keith and the band were unanimous in agreeing the name ought to be written in bones – the amalgamation of ‘Tartarus’ and ‘carcass’ gave further impetus to the powerful name. Tarkus was written in bones on the cover. I recall saying the name of the band was in many ways no longer an issue to be considered on the front of the album. It was an unusual and bold venture by the band 16


to leave it out, but the power of the painted image along with outstanding music and reviews vindicated their decision. The album charted at number one: an extraordinary achievement for a second album. With every consideration for the artwork of Tarkus, the band openly helped my endeavours in achieving the feel they required visually. I went to Advision and heard many of the tracks being recorded, and this experience gave me a strong sense of commitment to the band and my paintings for them. Later, when Pictures at an Exhibition was considered, the band gave me free rein with the album cover while they toured the States: such was our understanding and friendship My involvement with ELP was more than just another album cover; my deep love of painting and music was reaching another level. It all came at a time when I longed to do something with a bit more longevity. My need to see how I would fare as a painter had been rekindled, and everyone knew it at CCS. We remain great friends. It was bittersweet leaving them all. Being gifted ELP’s next album Pictures at an Exhibition was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. The symbiosis of painting and music was complete. This work has a special place in my archive: it was the only album cover I originated, painted and art directed throughout. This classical piece by Mussorgksy was a particular favourite of mine from childhood. I greatly admired ELP for their musical interpretation and this album cover was a gift of a commission for any rock artist. I was very aware of its significance right from the start. The fact that it was slipped out as a budget album, and never considered to be their third album was of no consequence.

“Pictures at an exhibition”, Emerson Lake and Palmer. No 6 in the album charts. Front cover.

Once the original idea was agreed they left me to it, and went on tour. When they came back one month later they played the Drury Lane Theatre, London, where we met up, and I presented them with the finished album – one amazing time! The original paintings were hung at the Hammersmith Town Hall London, and photographed by the late Keith Morris assisted by Nigel Marlow, two former graduates with me from Guildford Art School. The paintings’ size is intentionally obscure due to the large titles of the paintings beside them, though in fact they were huge oil paintings on canvas. The paintings are full of ELP symbolism, eg, the Tarkus background in the Hut, and Promenade has a white dove embossed into the Titanium white oil paint, which is purely for the observer of the original to enjoy: it was never intended to be seen on the printed cover. Naturally I am delighted to have been associated with a work that has become a firm 17

“Pictures at an exhibition”, Inner gate-fold. Album Cover Design, 1971.


favourite with ELP fans over the years. It has turned millions towards the classics, and is literally a ‘Classic Rock’ album, though it has remained a strong defining visual part of the progressive rock era too. There remains another reason why Pictures at an Exhibition was special to me. The next ELP album turned out to be Trilogy. It was a ‘tour de force’ of some of the most thrilling and as then, untried ideas for album cover design. We were also riding on two album covers that had shown great success, yet what turned out was the complete opposite. It was a frustrating time for us all to see some of the most intensely thought-out and adventurous ideas, so close to fruition, being picked to pieces and discarded. It is obvious now with hindsight why no agreement could be reached: Trilogy was a great album, a significant milestone for the band. It was not, however, a true concept album. This quote from author Martyn Hanson will appear in a new publication on progressive rock, “Mountains Come Out of the Sky”, by the American author Will Romano... it sums it all up: “looking back it appears that Neal’s original idea for Trilogy had gone further than anyone had gone before in the field of album design.” (To find out exactly what that was, you will have to read the book!) This was an appropriate time to move from the graphic arts to the fine arts; without doubt Pictures at an Exhibition gave me the confidence to do exactly what I am doing now almost 40 years on and more than 40 exhibitions later.

“Take a Pebble”, Designers gouache on CS10 board. 18” x 13”.

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Another Grey Area How do paintings come about.? All I know is they do and, sometimes with deep inner discomfort, they don’t. I am reminded of Tommy Cooper speaking to Eric Sykes one day when he was feeling rather low. Tommy said, in all seriousness: “I don’t know why people think I’m funny.” Eric simply replied, “Don’t even think about trying to find out – just keep on doing what you’re doing.” It seems the only way to cope. The 1970s were a real baptism into what painting entirely for a living is like. I took a real bashing, much of it my own fault. ‘Recreational’ is a term used for so-called soft drugs. It’s not a term I would apply to them now. A slide into non-activity, a nervous breakdown, a broken marriage and having no home followed. I recall living in a barn, riding a girl’s bike that was too small for me, working in the freezing cold (the studio was so cold the paint actually froze on my palette), shoving a hairdryer under my clothing to keep warm while painting, and making sure I had enough money to get one meal at the Wharf Café in Godalming each day. A rock lyric in Tarkus speaks of “The weevil in the work that he made.” That line struck a heavy chord of sustained feedback for some time. In 1982 Graham Parker brought out an album called Another Grey Area. I had the pleasure of producing a painting of that very title just for him. Instead of it being depressing, it was left unfinished, with the grey just a touch warmer, close up to the unfinished area. That way, observers could draw their own conclusions as to whether the painting got brighter still, or not. It was really from this point on that I made a firm resolve never to paint a depressing picture again, or cause people to feel disturbed by the content of my paintings. I knew my working discipline had a long way to go and it was critical not to let go. The first track on Graham Parker’s album was called Temporary Beauty, which touched me no end. This music put me in mind of all those fleeting moments in the landscape when we just have to drink it all in before it’s gone. In many respects it was this music that put me on the path to paint the very first of my snow and moonlight scenes, which I named after the Graham Parker piece. It was a great moment to have a large solo show at the Chenil Gallery in the King’s Road. These were the first paintings of a whole new way of life, and it was made even more moving by having an artist who had worked by my side at CCS all those years ago make a surprise visit and purchase Temporary Beauty. He wasn’t called Leo Sayer then. 19

“Temporary Beauty”, Watercolour. 10” x 8”.


A Remarkable Man and a Fiery Furnace Stefan Knapp’s enduring reputation as a leading enamellist was rooted in his knowledge of just how far this ancient medium could be extended. During the 1960s he brought into existence the largest enamel mural in the world, measuring 50ft x 200ft – pilots were able to get their bearings on Kennedy Airport as they made their approach. His work also involved projects for the Seagram and Shell buildings with Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali. Stefan enabled artists to work to architectural scale and he taught me so much while I worked with him as his studio assistant for three memorable years: his remarkable kindness and teaching ability still affect my working day. This is especially so regarding studio discipline: if anyone knew how to get the most out of watching paint dry, then it was him.

Stefan Knapp. “Multisimus” Acrylic on canvas, 67”x67”, 1988.

On my first visit to Stefan’s studio, it was immediately apparent that discipline was a high priority in his work. Yes, there was paint spattered all over the place and contraptions and oddments in strange places: but everything had a specific job to do and was at hand. First lesson: working with enamel is potentially very dangerous! When you have opened a heavy metal kiln, which accepts 6ft x 4ft sheets of steel to melting point, over twenty times a day – man, that’s hot! The kiln has to be at melting point for optimum fusion of glass to steel. Late into the night we would switch some of the studio lights off straight after a panel had come from the kiln: watching the gradual change from red hot to colour was a special moment – a once-and-for-all-time bonding of colour to steel.

Stefan Knapp in his Sandhills Studio.

Stefan called working in enamel “Russian roulette with colour.” All of the enamel colours are greyish powders in a pot, and the true colour value only comes about when it has been in the fiery furnace. Sometimes the colours have to be fired several times to get the right degree of brilliance, and the final firing would bring all the colours together in a unity which would exhibit their individual characteristics. Some colours are opaque, others transparent or opalescent. Gold leaf can also be burnt into the artwork, and this would call for careful consideration at the outset since overfiring would start a breakup of the colours. This effect may, on the other hand, be just the desired texture required – the calculations are complex. Stefan would usually be working on a pretty large scale (perhaps ten panels to a mural) 20


and all the colours on each panel would have to be an exact match. It was a combination of hard physical work coupled with great sensitivity and vision. Stefan’s instruction was so intensive that within one year I was qualified to teach enamelling, and I had the pleasure of doing this at King Edward’s School in Witley, Surrey. Stefan used a spray-gun, and he maintained that Michelangelo would have got a lot more done if he had used one. He also had a much bigger brother to my DeVilbiss compressor with larger guns to spray the enamel. There was a huge extractor fan that took up a whole window – the din was incredible. With the noise of the compressor, all the general studio working clatter and the fact that we had masks on, it took some pretty elaborate body language to communicate. Stefan was instrumental in the introduction of acrylic paint in 1963. He worked with Rowney’s (now Daler-Rowney) to improve the handling of this new medium, and flowformula acrylic paint was one result of his input. I went with him to a Rowney paint production unit and saw great vats of the stuff all churning away: cadmiums and cobalts, violets, yellows and reds. There were stringent light-fast tests and temperature evaluations. Stefan’s work with acrylics was the real catalyst for my experimental mode. Watercolour is a much gentler medium and I was more at ease with its characteristics: an important consideration for speed and confidence. Having been part of huge-scale projects, I was not intimidated by size or large areas of colour in my work and seeing just how far I could push the qualities of watercolour, as Stefan had with enamel, really fired my imagination.

Stefan Knapp.

I learnt more in these years at Stefan’s studio, and when travelling with him, than at any other period.

William and airbrush at his Bridge Street Studio, Godalming.

21


30 Years After In 1981, a number of exhibitions put enough funds my way to buy a new Honda van. Instead of living in a barn, I would be able to travel where the work would take me. St. Ives was considered, along with Wales, and even the South of France. And then I met an enterprising man in the Three Lions public house in Godalming. His name was Steve Course and he was going to open an art gallery with his brother Phil, in Dumfries. Steve and Phil promised to promote my paintings, saying if things didn’t work out, there was plenty of work in the fish factories for all of us! I took an isolated cottage just outside the village of Borgue near Kirkcudbright, the Artist’s Town of southwest Scotland. It had no telephone, no television and no central heating, but it did have its own well. Even hanging out the washing was invigorating: it seemed the wind had blown for hundreds of miles just to blow on me. Newfield Cottage, Borgue - the artist’s studio and home 1981-1984

The first years in and around Borgue were prolific and highly charged with the stimulus of storm and calm, and the texture and intriguing patterns of dry stone dykes. The enormous expanse of sky, and water all around, came as a real culture shock. I saw the postman, my landlord’s son Bengy riding over the fields on his motorbike with his border collie riding pillion and leaning into the bends; then five or six familiar cars and the odd tractor each morning and evening. I had never really had the desire to actually go out and paint a representational picture. How absurd to trudge miles over wet grass, cowpats and barbed wire, only to be followed by swarms of midges. The distraction of cows, the possibility of a bull, and of lifting a painting out of a puddle was not for me. I was a studio painter, relying on recalling images and working from noted ideas in a calm, well-organised environment. The watercolour painting Shine On was one of the first completed in Scotland and the last to have an album feel to it: somewhat larger than life and a touch slick in execution. The moon is as big as a beach ball and the mountains pure fantasy, but the Scots pines and snow are real recognition of my new direction. It was one of a pair, which eventually went into print as a limited edition of 850. I had been told that dark paintings didn’t sell. The edition sold out many years ago

“Catfish Country”, Watercolour on CS10 board. 20” x 16”.

Time is running out the moment you embark upon a watercolour: it’s rather like running across a frozen pond trying to make it to the other side, and many aspiring artists have given up on it – it dries amazingly fast, has hard edges where not required and often does its own thing when pooling and blending occurs. It is innately stubborn at most 22


attempts to rectify errors and the paper will often give out and tear or cockle. I decided another option would make life easier. It dawned on me that if I stopped using watercolour paper (there’s always a hint of texture showing even when you want a clear blue sky) and went back to using the old-time illustrator’s boards, such as CS10, it would solve a host of watercolour problems in one go. I could even go back to a painting that had been left for weeks and start painting again as though I had never put it aside. The use of a pure spray of water over the entire work, delivered by airbrush from a height so that it fell as a gentle mist on the artwork, would, after a matter of minutes reactiviate the paint, because the pigment did not get bogged down as it would have done on traditional watercolour paper. An enormous advantage with this process is that whenever corrections need to be made, the airbrush stimulates the pigment back to life without any ill effects. The traditional method of wetting with a brush would disturb the paint itself and create a nasty mess. Progress was rapid from here on. The studio was full of notes, drawings, colour swatches and, in an unusual departure for me, I limited my colours to just three: Prussian Blue, Burnt Umber and Paynes Grey. This allowed me to concentrate on main elements of interest and texture: Pines is an example of this. A far more direct approach to painting – a study of twenty small similar works arranged as a compilation later called Marginal Movements – had their beginnings here in 1983. This study was to become the basis of my largest exhibition ever at Gracefield, Dumfries: ten large paintings set to music would take these small studies into the realms of abstraction and subsequently a completely new application of acrylics.

“Silver Birch Reflection”, Watercolour. 7” x 6”.

Steve and Phil Course’s Ottersburn Gallery was my life-line for the promotion of my work. The landscape surrounding my cottage just teemed with new experiences to paint: Steve had said “Galloway will hold you an hour longer than you anticipated everywhere you go.” How right he was. Rock pools and seascapes started to appear at my exhibitions: fishing around Carrick and Kirkcudbright was the stimulus for many of my paintings of coastal scenes. Calm and Cumulus Carrick, Bright Sands, and Turn of the Tide are examples of this time and have a much looser feel than earlier paintings. These new works were exhibited in London at the Chenil Gallery in 1984 in my first one-man show. Two more followed at the Chalk Farm Gallery and Clarge’s. These peaceful paintings were also accepted at the Malcolm Innes Gallery in Edinburgh. 23

“Pines”, Watercolour on CS10 board. 16” x 11”.


The need for more studio space prompted moves to Kirkcudbright and Bridge of Dee, but the mainstay of my work still revolved around the area of Borgue and Carrick. There was something very special about the light there: on bright days it reminded me of the dazzle and clarity of the Bay of St Clare in Provence. A feature of Galloway is the abundance of water, and its reflective quality seems to bounce the light up to the overcast sky and down on to a shimmer of golden reeds, dried grass, or more water. Cobalt Violet, Alizarin Crimson, hints of Raw Sienna and Rose crop up in the most unlikely places. The ability to be sensitive and bold is inherent in watercolour. There is also a kind of diffuse mystery in watercolour, and that mystery is ever present in Galloway.

“Reeds on the Tarff ”, Watercolour. 7” x 10”.

The constant quest for the possibility within the painting, or rather, the paint, comes down to just how far a chosen medium can be stretched. It is possible to fuse the figurative and non-figurative. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the freedom of my own landscapes based on Galloway, as opposed to a blow-by-blow picture of a particular place. It is amazing how many people tell me one of my works is such-and-such a place, when it’s just pure imagination. Whenever I feel that I am ‘starting to paint pictures’, a stiff correctness takes over. I am sure many artists identify with this. Mellow Yellow sums up the countless times I have enjoyed just ‘being there’ rather than how the scene would look as a figurative painting. The dried-reed-beds fusion of yellows and ochres together with a kind of creamy softness in a warm violet sky was so soothing. Sea Mist came together within an hour, and it is an example of how purely watercolour can be rendered in a swift and free-form way. A walk on a clear night when the moon is full over Galloway is like being floodlit. My collie, Ben would be seen as flashes of white from his head, paws and tail, and hundreds of eyes would sparkle from the sheep and cows in the fields, mirroring the starlight above.

“Tiddlers’ Hollow”, Watercolour on CS10 board. 13” x 9”.

A well-known London gallery owner had said of my moonlight paintings, “I can’t sell these William: far too dark, far too cold, far too sombre, far too…far too difficult to sell!” He told me to look in other galleries and to tell him how many moonlight paintings I had seen. I was astonished to find moonlight paintings were few and far between. People find dark subjects cold, threatening, spooky or sometimes depressing. Colour is positive and uplifting. Stefan put untold hours of thought into his work and his colours had such body, with 24


the undertones giving the surface a luminosity. And that’s just what moonlight subjects needed: an inner, tantalising glow, and it was a delightful challenge to warm up a ‘cold’ subject. Elements within my paintings that had a tendency to be oppressive or sombre were discarded. My main aim throughout was to instil peace, colour and harmony. It was all down to absorbing the landscape and observing the night light of Galloway. After Midnight, Moon Shadow and Moonlit Dunes have their place in this book for all the reasons I have just mentioned. Huge rolling clouds queuing up on the horizon to dump a hefty shower amid bright sunshine are one of the outstanding features of Galloway. The drama of dark clouds over bright fields with flecks of seabirds and countless sheep is a spectacle which just begs to be painted. All of the advice in art books on how to capture the mood, colour and freshness of the moment is far easier said than done, and I confess to really struggling with it. How strange that the only paintings of mine accepted by the Royal Glasgow Institute in 2003 were of this very subject: Looking for a Rainbow 1 and Looking for a Rainbow 2. I have also included Barley Corn along with Rainbow Maker, and I am left content to have had another try, to look forward to the next painting, and to watch the clouds in constant wonder. And I’m reminded of Stefan, when we pondered over a huge painting of his in Provence. It was obvious he was troubled over this work, yet I could not grasp the problem. He said, “I search for visual truth Willy; it’s like needle in haystack – just maybe I get bit warmer.”

William and Border Collie, Ben, at Newfield Cottage, Borgue, 1982.

“Barley Corn”, Watercolour. 6” x 7”. Painting for Bladnoch Distillery.

25


Marginal Movements Marginal Movements originated from a short poem I wrote based on the wonders of peering into water as a child. Goldfish, rippled sundance, velvet shadows below the mill, eyes with ceaseless wonder, seldom are they still. An outstretched hand will scoop, to fill jam jars full of promise, life’s happiness made to share, to ponder at its secrets unveiled with every stare. Tiddlers ,tadpoles, terrapins, their friends the dragonflies. Have we retained the picture we had with child’s eyes? That precious piece which says it all ... believable ... secure. Delight without, delight within, toward days of evermore. It was developed into an audio-visual recollection, the poem being recited by Greg Lake for the CD, with Keith Emerson’s introduction to the exhibition brochure. Marginal Movements was a series of ten paintings. Integral to the paintings were ten musical movements, eight pieces written specifically for the paintings, plus two established works chosen for their affinity to the overall concept. These large, non-figurative images combined marginal rhythmic movements of forms within the actual margins or edges of the paintings’ composition. All the images had their initial forms based on the margins, or bank of a pond. The music itself was composed of short or ‘marginal’ movements. A subtle twist to the show was that these paintings could be seen as figurative as well as abstract compositions, thus completing a ‘marginal movement’. A large sound-system was set up, and a video screen linked the paintings to the music for ease of identification as people entered the show. Park benches completed the setting so people could sit and absorb the concept. The exhibition brochure was an essential feature, enabling the observer to take home ten small reproductions of the paintings, their story and a CD. All the paintings have found homes – two are in public collections. The entire project took just over a year to complete, with participation by the musicians, Penelope Cave, harpsichord; Neal Williams, multi-instrumentals; the late Don Hooley, guitar and Malcolm Dunn, keyboards, guitar and overall sound recording and production. I wrote and performed three pieces myself. 26


It crossed my mind that Brian Dunce would find the show of interest. I was amazed and delighted to find that we had both been working on major audio-visual themes at the same time! Brian had produced a performance installation of paintings for Preludes and Interludes, based on the music of Debussy, a collaboration between pianist Graham Caskie, composer Stephen Goss and Brian as the artist. The entire installation was six feet high and fifty four feet wide and was part of a touring performance throughout Britain. Once more, the works are available in CD form with a separate folder inset of all Brian’s paintings. He told me it was a kind of audio-visual ping-pong. One of the musicians on Marginal Movements was a friend of mine in the USA, Neal Williams. Neal has a long history of electronic music and we came together again for a show at The Mill on the Fleet in Gatehouse. The centrepiece of this show featured his music Sylvan Droplet Variation – the journey of a single water droplet on a pond, starting with, The Realm of Droplet through to Circlearama, Voyage of Ripple, Culmination and Dissipation. Here, they are just words, but the painting associated with this theme has the ability to go far beyond the pond – the original is now in Indianapolis, USA. The exhibition brought together new ways of using acrylic paint with modern materials, such as MDF and plastics. Here is where I am right now, finding excitement in these new materials, and putting into practice an entirely new process. Is this because I am painting not as a fine artist, but as an enamellist, like Stefan? On large free-form concepts based purely on the way the paint handles, especially under duress, I believe I have been able to give the acrylic medium a voice of its own, with a finish not unlike enamel. The needle in the haystack is still far off, though there are days when I feel I might be getting a bit warmer. J’aime presque autant les images que la musique. I love pictures almost as much as music. Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

27


Afterword

Take a long hard look at children’s art and relive the energy and strident colour – the sky is blue: wallop, in it goes. The sun is yellow: wallop. Red dress: wallop, black cat: wallop, wallop, wallop…it’s endless. Paintings and drawings are finished in seconds and there’s never enough paper to keep up. What happened to all that wonderful spontaneity and lack of inhibition? When teaching students, and especially children, I have always come away being taught the most. I think we all have the ability to be creative. We have to go back and unlearn the wisdom that has confounded our confidence. Creative people often suffer a terrible block and I can think of no better cure than attempting to see as a child again. Velvet Shadows from Marginal Movements and A Fine Line are, in my opinion, the closest I have come to achieving this fleeting moment. When I recall my early work of the 1970s, had the paintings been music, they would have been very heavy metal. This work was not easy to live with. Some of them were even banned – all of them were devoid of hope, depicting scenes of man’s inhumanity to man and of the earth being ruined by pollution and greed. The Endless Enigma was one of many attempts to address the futility of war in visual form. This period was marked by personal disasters and ended in a nervous breakdown at 25. Meeting Stefan Knapp, whose work always had that compelling inner fire of childlike simplicity, was a redefining point. Coming to southwest Scotland to paint at Newfield Cottage, in the beautiful landscape of Borgue, introduced me to the diversity of nature around me. Relating to this in visual terms – to the complex curves of the landscape, the spectral colours of a swirling sea mist that makes the sun a white wafer disc, the flash of light upon the edge of a loch or distant horizon – was and remains a source of great delight.

28


The Paintings

29


“Shine On”, Watercolour on CS10 board. 18” x 12”.

30


“Bamboo and Waterfall”, Watercolour on CS10 board. 8” x 5”.

“Evening Sunlight”, Watercolour on CS10 board. 16” x 11”.

31


“Early Morning Light on the Tarff ”, Watercolour. 5” x 7”.

32


“Moonshadow”, Watercolour. 8” x 10”.

33


“Moonlit Snowscene, Borgue”, Watercolour. 17” x 16”.

34


“After Midnight”, Watercolour. 5” x 4”.

35


“A Galloway Steading”, Watercolour. 7” x 8”.

36


“Rainbow Maker”, Watercolour. 11” x 9”.

37


“Sunset over Plunton Main, Borgue”, Watercolour. 7” x 8”.

38


“Mellow Yellow”, Watercolour. 5” x 4”.

39


“Calm and Cumulus Carrick”, Watercolour. 7” x 6”.

40


“Bright Sands”, Watercolour. 7” x 6”.

41


“Sundown”, Watercolour. 7” x 6”.

42


“Going Down Slow”, Watercolour. 12” x 14”.

43


“More on the Way”, Watercolour. 12” x 14”.

44


“Hazy Moon”, Watercolour. 15” x 14”.

45


“Moonlit Dunes”, Watercolour. 14” x 16”.

46


“Sea Mist”, Watercolour. 8” x 10”.

47


“Turn of the Tide”, Watercolour. 11” x 9”.

48


“Floodwater”, Watercolour. 7” x 5”.

49


“Marginal Movements: Study in 3 Colours: Prussian Blue, Burnt Umber, Paynes Grey”, Watercolour. 25” x 19”. 1983. Foundational work for the later Marginal Movements.

50


“Marginal Movements: Velvet Shadows”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

51


“Marginal Movements: Rhododendroned”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

52


“Marginal Movements: Shimmerous”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

53


“Marginal Movements: Les Barricades Mysterieuses”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

54


“Marginal Movements: Rippled Sundance”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

55


“Marginal Movements: Electric Pondlife”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

56


“Marginal Movements: Goldfish”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

57


“Marginal Movements: Curved Light”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

58


“Marginal Movements: Running Water”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

59


“Marginal Movements: Sylvan Droplets”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

60


“Spectral Dust”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

61


“A Very Fine Line”, Acrylic on board. 42” x 42”.

62


“Sylvan Droplet Variation”, Acrylic on board. 32” x 32”.

63


Further Information Marginal Movements.The audio visual music mentioned in this publication regarding William Neals “Marginal Movements” and “Sylvan Droplet Variation” can be heard and obtained from www.williamneal.co.uk Neal Williams. American multi-instrumentalist (Genre Defying Music) for film cd and more. www.nealwilliamsmusic.com Brian Dunce. “Preludes and Interludes”, a collaboration between pianist Graham Caskie, artist Brian Dunce and composer Stephen Goss is available on Cadenza Music CACD 1208. The piano music of Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918) was a constant source of inspiration throughout the collaboration. STEFAN KNAPP. Internationally renowned Polish enamellist, sculptor and painter (1921 - 1996) The late Stefan Knapp’s public collections and achievements in modern art museums/public buildings and collections are extensive worldwide, but a permanent collection of his work and bibliography can be found at the Mid Wales Art Centre. The Mid Wales Arts Centre, Caersws, Powys. SY17 5SB. Wales. www.midwalesarts.org.uk Emerson Lake and Palmer. www.emersonlakepalmer.com KEITH EMERSON. www.keithemerson.com Greg Lake: www.greglake.com Carl Palmer: www.carlpalmer.com

Cover image concept by William Neal “I remain intrigued by the visual interplay of 1970s album covers and felt the cover of the book provided an opportunity to reflect this. The picture brings together key elements from my work - in the moonlit Galloway landscape of my earlier paintings, and the abstract on the easel reflecting my present work - and a career spent watching paint dry” 64


“Isn’t it time you had a retrospective exhibition?” a gallery owner asked. The thought filled me with horror – to date, I’ve had over fifty exhibitions. “You’ve been painting in Scotland now for over thirty years; your work has undergone many changes – people would find that interesting,” he went on. I still decided against a retrospective – but he got me thinking.

“He must be one of the best known, unknowns” Martyn Hanson co author “The Show That Never Ends” Emerson, Lake and Palmer

“They remind me of the peaceful, visionary quality of certain rock music of the 70s, but their feel is utterly modern. This is art to enjoy and find peace in, you will not be challenged but soothed “ John Hudson / Galloway News.

“One of the most talented and celebrated artists in the region. His evocative blending of colour and profound understanding of light is a pleasure to behold, and a mood that is a delight to experience” Sara Bain / Dumfries & Galloway Standard

www.williamneal.co.uk


Watching Paint Dry  

50 years of Painting and the Galloway Landscape

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