Artist of the Week – Colin StokesTJ
Colin was born and raised in Altricham, Greater Manchester.
When it came time to leave school, Colin really wanted to go to art college but his parents said no as they couldn’t afford to pay the tuition fees so instead he got a job in catering. After working for a while with DeVere Hotels, he moved into the family flooring business, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him.
Divorce number one happened and, having emigrated to the USA in 1997, Colin worked for a commercial flooring company in Pennsylvania for 15 years then Connecticut, Shaker country, for a year.
Before he had realised a move to the US of A was on the cards, Colin had enrolled at Macclesfield Art College and did a foundation course in art. After his move to the US, he found that his qualification wasn’t recognised in The States so he had to retake the US version of the foundation course.
Colin loved living in America but with divorce number two and the call of his family back home, life brought him back to the UK and he now lives in Aylesbury with the current Mrs Stokes, the lovely Liz.
So, without any further ado, let’s hear Colin’s story. I grabbed my customary cuppa and settled down in my kitchen for a video chat with the man himself.
What did you do before you discovered your talent for art/crafts?
Art was always my favourite and most successful subject at school. Oddly, my second best subject was maths which is a bit of a left brain / right brain contradiction. After leaving school I sort of left art behind. I’d wanted to go to art college but it didn’t happen. When I moved to the USA I started drawing and painting in my spare time. The problem was that I was a travelling sales rep covering seven states which meant that the opportunities to follow my passion were few and far between. When I had my third child my wife went back to work full time straight away so I pretty much became a single parent and that put an end to spare time altogether.
After my second divorce and my move to Connecticut I started my art again. After a year in “The land of steady habits” my family wanted me to come home to the UK. When I got back I couldn’t even get a mobile phone contract at first so I had plenty of time to get back into art.
When I moved to Shrewsbury I joined The Hive which is an art collective and that taught me a lot.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I had really good teachers at school who were so invested in us and so encouraging. It makes such a difference.
During lockdown I started doing isolation art challenges. It has really forced me to look at myself and my art. My family has shown an interest in what I’m doing which has really spurred me on.
Truth be told, I’ve got a real itch; wondering what would have happened if I’d gone to art college after school rather than following my Dad and Grandfather into the family business.
What’s life like as an artist in your area?:
Amazing! I had 9 events planned. One of them happened in February but the rest were cancelled due to the dreaded virus. Who knows when things will get back to normal?
That having been said, since lockdown started I’ve got farm shops selling my cards and a contract with the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust selling cards, prints and originals. I’m in contact with the Butterfly Conservation Trust too so things are really moving forward.
To be honest, yes, it’s great and I’m very grateful for all the work but it’s become a job creating commercial pieces rather than creating art I’m passionate about.
I’ve recently got into two galleries, one here and one in Altrincham with my original work which I think is what every artist aspires to.
Is your family artistic?
My parents or my sister? No, definitely not. My dad used to sing, not professionally but apparently he was really good.
Of my three kids two daughters are artistic, my son not so much. My eldest works with the BBC as a sound engineer and she’s very musical. I’m delighted to say my youngest, who still lives in the states, is an artist.
Who is your favourite artist?
Hmmm, it’s a toss up between DaVinci and Degas but I’d probably plump for Degas.
For contemporary art it’s absolutely Jack Vetriano. Martin Lewis as well, he’s amazing and if you haven’t heard about him look him up! He was mentored by Edward Hopper but when Hopper took off and became famous he denied ever knowing Lewis. I’ve gone off Hopper a lot since finding that out as well as some other particularly unsavoury things he got up to.
What advice would you give to beginners?
I still feel like I’m a beginner myself!
If you’re passionate about it make time for it. Find a way to do what you’re passionate about or you’ll regret it. There are so many opportunities these days, art societies etc. There’s something about painting with other artists that’s really inspiring.
Would you be interested in LA&C’s mentoring scheme?
I think it’s a brilliant scheme, I really do. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor as it were and right now I’m hovering between aspiring and emerging on the scale of things from beginner to established artist. I’m smack bang in the middle and it places me perfectly to be able to offer help and advice to beginners while look to others with more experience to learn from them.
Well, that’s all from me for this week.
Thanks to Colin for sharing his story. You can visit his shop here.
If Colin’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 firstname.lastname@example.org
And last but not least, our July competition is almost closed!
You can view and vote for all entries here. Get your voting finger ready, there are some fantastic entries but voting is almost over so look out for August’s competition coming soon.
See you all next week.
By for now.