David Charlesworth GRA
People around the world are obsessed with moving images, video, hi-definition DVD, but I believe there is still a valuable place for paintings, books and prints. Something that gives you time to think, time to reflect, something tangible that can be enjoyed for generations. There is a unique beauty in the way a brushstroke or watercolour wash can excite the eye and convey movement, life and light on a flat surface. This almost accidental beauty is what makes people keep a painting on the wall for hundreds of years, while even the most magnificent photograph becomes boring after a few months.
I began drawing recognisable trains and aircraft, so I am told, before the age of three and was doing precise colouring before that. I started painting with oils when eight and completed my first commission when only twelve. Born in 1954, I am probably one of the few professional artists of my years with over 40 years continuous experience producing and selling paintings and illustrations for customers at home and abroad, but one of the many lessons I was taught by my elders, was never to become complacent – strive constantly for improvement, because there will always be people greater and better than you.
Though I am a full member of the ‘Guild of Railway Artists, my work is not confined to railway subjects, I have produced considerably more non-railway pictures! As an industry-trained, working professional artist & graphic designer my work covers every subject (including portraits) and most mediums. Mine was the last generation of Britain’s Litho Artist apprentices, in the final days of the ‘closed shop’ and the SLADE union. (Society of Lithographic Artists, Designers and Engravers.)
Starting work in a large art studio at the age of 16, I benefited greatly from the aged principles of the company apprenticeship. Bound to the firm for five years, I served ‘under the wing’ of the studios’ elders and was thus educated, not just within the industry but in lifestyle too. Encouraged, and to a some extent perhaps pressured, to develop my art outside of the studio and bring work in for criticism. Staff within the art department included some very talented artists and modellers. Early exhibitions were with the Portland Group of Artists, Chesterfield, which was founded by members of the art department and took over the organisation of this from the age of 18.
My work has been seen at exhibitions in several major towns and cities at home and abroad. Currently working with the Railway Children charity, my paintings are now raising money for the charity and reaching even larger audiences with their range of Christmas cards.
Photography was part of my basic training and I am a keen enthusiast of India and her railways in particular. As a result, I became co-author and producer of a colourful book of India, entitled INDIA, 'No problem Sahib', the illustrator of a spectacular book on the Darjeeling Railway (North East India) called ‘Halfway to Heaven’, and illustrator and producer of 'Chwedlau - Ffestiniog Fables', a publication produced for the Festiniog Railway Company in Wales. My keen interest in Indian Railways has also led to my involvement in other publications and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society, as co-founder and editor/producer of the Darjeeling Mail magazine with almost 700 members in 23 countries.
My interest in railways, transport generally and industrial history has been lifelong. My daughter Lauren, first visited the National Railway Museum at York when only twelve days old in 1985 and on every visit thereafter, Lauren has been photographed alongside the EM1 class locomotive 26020, one of my favourites from the days of seeing it at work in Sheffield in the 1960s.
My other interests include building a large model railway as a continuous project, dolls houses for daughter and nieces and a passion for powerful motorcycles and mending things!
I have always held the opinion, that picture or drawing should be seen as a genuine investment in pleasure and purchased solely on its merits, so that even if your taste and décor ideas change after just a year, you will still have had great value for money. If you bought wisely you will be able to recover the original value at the very least, or in the case of family portraits, pass it on. A good painting will always create interest and be a joy to own for generations to come.