Artist of the week – Paul AcklandTJ
Hi there and welcome to this week’s Artist Of The Week.
Paul Ackland was born and bred in Port Talbot and now lives in Pontypridd, South Wales, with his two dogs, a Jack Russell and a Border Collie. He spends a lot of time travelling up and down between Pontypridd and Cardiff, where his partner lives. He has a 29 year old daughter who lives in Bridgend and works as a nurse in our wonderful NHS.
Currently furloughed, Paul works in the construction sector where he has been for the past 40+ years. He worked for the Fire service for a while and is now Depot Manager for a small company in Cardiff which sells compressed air equipment.
You can buy Paul’s art through his Local Art & Craft shop, Beespok Personalised Art & Design, and at local art and craft fairs.
So, without any further ado, I grabbed my customary cuppa and sat down in my kitchen for a video chat with the man himself.
What inspired you to become an artist?
To be honest, I never think of myself as an artist. It’s a sort of term I’m really uncomfortable with.
I never trained to be an artist like a lot of people. I just think of myself as… well… someone who can paint. When I was young I was always doodling, I’ve always loved it. I don’t think I ever thought it would come to anything and my parents certainly didn’t.
I’d wanted to stay on at school and do A levels then go to uni but being from a working class family in the 70s my parents couldn’t afford it so I took some bad advice from a careers advisor and left school to do a job. The stupid thing is, I ended up being unemployed for 8 months!
I would have loved to have gone into engineering but with unemployment as it was, 1 in 10, people weren’t taking people on so I followed a different path.
But you found your way there eventually
When I was young, I was always trying to do something with my hands. Lego, modelling clay, Airfix models, that sort of thing. That lead on to picking up a paint brush and I kind of fell into painting. It’s just something I was born to do.
Having said that, I had a period where I didn’t do anything for about 20 years. I got married, my daughter came along, I was playing a lot of sports so that took over. I’d had pieces commissioned before I got married, oil paintings, landscapes and animals, I even had a commission for a huge picture of a guy’s fishing boat. He stuck it above his fireplace and his wife hated it!
When I got married I put down the brushes and carried on with life. Then, about 10 years ago, I was having a conversation with some friends and we were talking about my art and they bought me an art set for my birthday.
I picked it up again and never looked back.
Is your family artistic?
No, not really. Not in the term that we’d think “artistic”. My brother is good at drawing but he never took it any further than that. Everyone else all grew up and got proper jobs, moved on. My father has always been very creative with his hands in a DIY sort of way. Ask him to build you a porch and he’d be on it but he was never what you’d call arty.
My daughter is much the same as me. Always doodling and drawing things but she never really wanted to push it any further than that.
What’s life like as an artist in your area?
Pontypridd isn’t exactly a cultural centre. It’s a typical vallies town. Cardiff isn’t far away though and it’s a lot more arts orientated. We did have a lot of craft fairs in the area but with lockdown that’s all stopped. When they’re up and running the craft fairs seem to thrive which is great for the pebble art that I do but art, like proper painting art, landscapes and what have you, isn’t that well received. I’m surprised really as the landscape here is phenomenal and I’m surprised more people aren’t more inspired by it.
Who is your favourite artist?
I’d have to say Constable. There’s something about his simple landscapes that spoke to me straight away when I was younger. Similarly, Turner and Monet both have a place in my heart.
I love more modern work, street art like Banksy. The painting he did of the boy with the burning skip was round the back of my ex wife’s parents’ house in Port Talbot so we ran straight round to see it, hoping to get a glimpse of a guy in a hoodie running off down an alley but he was long gone.
One of my favourite artists is Congo Congo. There’s a freedom to his work that defies description. You can’t pigeon hole him. He’s probably best described as a post-modern expressionist I suppose.
Oh, and he’s a chimpanzee.
What advice would you give to beginners?
Do what you feel is right for you. There isn’t a right or wrong way of doing things, just let your art flow if you know what I mean.
I tried all sorts of things before I found my niche. If you think there’s something you’d like to do, go for it but leave your mind open to other ideas. You might suddenly find something you’d never thought of before and that could be your thing.
Never let yourself be put off by mistakes. They happen.
Would you be interested in LA&C’s mentoring scheme?
I’m always open to learning different things but I don’t feel confident enough to offer advice to someone. I guess, as I said, I don’t consider myself an artist. I never really pushed myself to want to go on to do more.
We had awful art teachers at school and I didn’t feel valued. I was expelled from one class for voicing my opinion too loudly and left another class because I felt it was wrong for me. The male teachers seemed to concentrate on the female students for some reason.
So there you have it!
Thank you to Paul for giving up his afternoon to chat to me and share his story.
It’s people like you and the rest of our amazing Facebook group that make LA&C the fantastic community it is. We really couldn’t do it without you.
If you’ve enjoyed Paul’s story please go to his Local Art & Craft UK shop, Beespok Personalised Art & Design, by clicking here and browse his fantastic paintings and pebble art.
Well, that’s all from me for this week.
If Paul’s story has inspired you to discover your creative side or if you’re already fully embracing your artistic inner self and you’d like to join our Facebook community of artists, crafters and artisans you can join the FB group by clicking here.
If you’d like to be our featured artist of the week please feel free to drop me a line and introduce yourself at email@example.com
And last but not least, our July competition is NOW OPEN!
You can enter, view and vote for all entries here. Get your voting finger ready, there are already some fantastic entries but more will be going in soon so don’t forget to pop back and vote for your favourite.
See you all next week.
By for now.