Our Featured Guest – From Castleford to Carasonne

Tony Merrick was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England in 1948, the birthplace of sculptor and artist Henry Moore.

The son of a coalminer, Merrick won a scholarship to the local grammar school before going on to study Fine Art at Hull College of Art where he gained a First Class Honours, Dip AD. He then went on to Chelsea School of Art gaining a Higher Diploma in Art in 1974.

At that time, he was producing large abstract works, up to 12 ft in dimensions and exhibited with the Young Contemporaries, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Surrey University and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford. His recent work however, could be described as loose figurative. Tony spent 7 years at Fray’s College of Adult Education, Uxbridge before setting up on his own to teach privately. He now runs successful classes at New Denham Community Centre, Oxford Road, Uxbridge, teaching pastel, oils and watercolour.

I am currently working on, amongst other things, a series of “paintings about painting” – studio studies, tubes of colours, easels, brushes, jars and the usual detritus that accumulates during the process of making pictures.

I would describe myself as a studio painter, rather than a plein air painter. My working process is, I suppose, contemplative, nudging shapes and fugitive colour around until they have a sense of rightness -“dancing in the dark” is the closest way of describing it.

“My weakness has always been to prefer the large intention of an unskillful artist to the trivial intention of an accomplished one: in other words, I am more interested in the high ideas of a feeble executant than in the high execution of a feeble thinker.” – Thomas Hardy

Having said that, when painting landscapes; I always draw directly from nature, with charcoal, pen and ink or by making small oil sketches. I paint in France and Italy but am especially drawn to the Yorkshire landscape, Swaledale and Wharfedale in particular. It is where I walked and fished as a youngster, so I know the land. Thomas Hardy was a countryman with mud on his boots, hence his poetry reads as honest and true, with a sense of place, that’s what I aim for too. Quiet colours in minor keys (when the whole world is shouting, try a whisper) and an awareness of the quality of the marks, are vitally important to me. So Rosemary and Co’s brushes are ideal. They retain their spring, are really well made and I use their Ivory range of filberts as a matter of course. The 24″ handle brushes are great for larger works, and the Egbert range gives wonderfully lively and varied marks.

Images courtesy of Tony Merrick.

To find out information on Tony’s classes and his work please visit his website: www.tonymerrick.com