Using bright colors, and broad, flowing brushstrokes, artist Mike Jory paints joyous animal portraits and landscapes of his native Devon countryside. Visit his website to learn more about this artist.
I’m an artist based in Devon, UK, and one of the joys of living in the southwest of England is being able to view the incredibly beautiful countryside on a daily basis. Driving along hedge-lined, winding, narrow roads constantly leads to the discovery of scenes straight out of the pages of Lord of the Rings.
As these picturesque panoramas reveal themselves through gaps in the hedge, I often stop the car and fire off some reference photos.
The animals that occupy the fields are also a favourite inspiration of mine and I enjoy studying the way light bounces off the different textures and colours of the various breeds of cows, sheep and horses that sometimes come to investigate a visitor to their field.
I then return to the studio and set to work, usually with acrylic paint, typically beginning with fast, broad brushstrokes. There is little I enjoy more than the sense of expressive freedom and endless possibility that comes with the first few marks on paper or canvas.
As the picture develops, I typically use interactive acrylic paint on top of an under layer of conventional acrylic, and this provides the advantage of acrylics and oils combined.
Experiments with colour produce dramatically lit cows, sheep, horses or goats. The animals in my paintings often peer out of the canvas at the viewer, but on other occasions they may be oblivious to being watched or may have just wandered into the edge of the composition.
My work is vibrantly coloured and uses expressive line. I hope this conveys the way the beauty of nature makes me feel.
I’ve also worked as a research scientist—for me, art and science are similar in many ways. Both require a methodical, precise approach while remaining open to change and new ideas. My scientific work has also helped me understand the structure and lighting of what I’m depicting. This allows me to work efficiently and sometimes leads to new techniques.
Working in different ways, using marker pens, dry brush, watercolour, pencils and biro and creating work in different styles is an important part of my process.
Exploring alternative techniques and materials like this keeps things fresh for me so that when I return to my main style, I have new skills, styles and insights to explore. Consequently, I’m rarely short of ideas for paintings and always have a long “to do” list that I’m working through and adding to at the same time.