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Meet The Artist - Trevor Mitchell

Published date: 16 November 2018

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Hello, and welcome back to our ‘Meet the Artist’ series. Joining us this week is the brilliant Trevor Mitchell, an exceptional artist who encapsulates nostalgia and nature through his artwork which can be found through a range of our calendars and gifts.

We joined him to ask questions about where he finds his inspirations, how he became so passionate, and his opinions on clouds

Trevor Mitchell, Days Gone By Slim CalendarWhere do you take inspiration from for your artwork? 

I’ve always had a fascination with the past, particularly the recent past and I enjoy recreating it on canvas. My paternal grandmother is one of the people I can thank for this; she was a lively, entertaining character who told a good story and as a young boy I enjoyed listening to her talking about her own childhood and the town she grew up in. She loved the place and I can still hear her voice now when I look at old photos of the area (Baildon, in West Yorkshire). I like studying old photographs in my search for reference material and I love rural Britain, it’s villages and landscape. 

How did you choose the art medium you use and what makes you so passionate about it? 

Like most children, I painted with watercolours and I didn’t get to try oils until I started sixth form and won a set as a school art prize. I struggled with them at first. For someone who’s natural inclination is to put lots of small detail in, oil paint is a clumsy medium. About ten years later, when I went freelance and began illustrating for greeting card publishers, I chose to work in gouache. Illustration work rekindled my childhood love of painting and as my interest in representational art grew, I was motivated to try oils again. Because all my favourite artists painted in this medium and I wanted to try and emulate them. As I grew accustomed to using them, I found what at first had seemed like a difficulty with them was working to my advantage; when working on larger artworks I had been over elaborating my work and I found oils gave me a natural cut off point. If it was getting too fiddly to paint in a minor detail then I knew I shouldn’t be trying! Leave it out and let the viewer’s eye put it in. 

Now oil on canvas is my favourite medium. I have tried acrylics — and canvas panels — but I find nothing more satisfying than painting in oils on a good quality, fine grained stretched canvas. I love everything about oil paint; the smell, the colours, texture and versatility and I find the finished results more pleasing than with any other medium. 

All my work is illustrative so the product the final image is to be reproduced on also influences the medium I use. For smaller artworks I use illustration board cut to A4 size, so I can scan the finished piece, and work in gouache combined with water soluble pencil crayons. 
How do you like to wind down at the end of the day? Is creating art your down time or do you need time to relax away from it? 

I’m very fortunate in that I find my work — painting and illustrating — therapeutic, so I can actually get on with it on an evening and wind down at the same time. Just as well really, because the other side of the coin is that the work is very time consuming and if deadlines are to be met (and bills paid) then sticking to a 9 to 5 routine wouldn’t be sufficient. But I’ve been doing it for so many years now — and enjoying it so much — that the boundaries between what might be termed work and leisure time have become so blurred as to be meaningless. 

Where do you create your artwork? 

In a small, garage sized outbuilding (it’s actually under the garage, as we’re on a hillside) next to the house. It involved a bit of digging and building work to make it but it’s a perfect little haven overlooking our back garden. North facing too, which helps with the light as it’s the most consistent to work in.

Do you have a message to convey through your artwork? 

I think of it as a mood to create, rather than a message to convey. If we’re talking about my larger illustrations which I paint in oils on canvas, their primary use is as a jigsaw puzzle and a calendar. For the picture to work on both, not only does it have to be pleasant to look at, it needs to have plenty of detail and a narrative that makes it engaging and appealing. I like a picture that tells a story, one that takes your eye for a walk and makes you want to step into it for some moments of escapism. That’s what I aim for. Perhaps a happy trip down memory lane, if you remember the era that’s depicted in the picture. Or, if the scene is set before your time, then maybe it can be a glimpse at something your parents or grandparents described to you. 

Going back to my own Grandmother’s tales, I think what shone through was her sense of belonging in and affection for her community. So in a way I’m trying to illustrate that and create a scene you want to become part of while you are looking at it. 

Is there anything you really want to paint/draw or anything you really wish to achieve with your art? 

I always find pictures with people in more interesting than those without and portraying ways of life that are dying out is rewarding. Transport subjects I find appealing and I’d like to do some landscapes with a strong human interest element, depicting rural crafts for example. As an artist and illustrator, I find the nicest thing about having my work published, particularly on something as accessible as a calendar, is it’s a great way of reaching out and sharing interests with like minded people. Especially when it motivates them to get in touch and pass on their knowledge and experiences, or just to tell me why a particular picture means so much to them. I’d like to be able to achieve this with other areas of interest too; I recently joined the Bronte Society as I find them so inspiring and fascinating. Given the time and opportunity, I’d like to attempt portraying them in their environment. 

What is your favourite month of the year? 

June. I love the long, light evenings. Providing I remember to take a hay fever tablet. 

Would you rather live under a sky with no stars at night or live under a sky with no clouds during the day? 

I suspect that’s an attempt at philosophy rather than meteorology? Well clear blue skies have their appeal, but clouds are an important part of a landscape picture. So if you’re presenting me with that choice, I’ll put up with clouds during the day if I can star gaze at night. 

To see more of Trevor’s work, you can click here.



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