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Farmer's son ploughs new artistic furrow

PUBLISHED: 15:23 23 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:12 20 February 2013

Farmer's son ploughs new artistic furrow

Farmer's son ploughs new artistic furrow

Artist Alan Bridges has an unusual background – a farmer's son who has spent his working life in the world of advertising and marketing. Now retired, and living near Framlingham, he is finally able to focus on his real passion - painting

Alan Bridges has an unusual background for an artist a farmers son who has spent his working life in the heady world of advertising and marketing. Now retired, and living near Framlingham, he is enjoying being able finally to focus on his real passion painting

Framlingham artist Alan Bridges says he gets his artistic leanings from his father a Norfolk farmer who had a wonderful talent for drawing.
As a boy he says he was first inspired by the paintings of Sir Peter Scott, the naturalist and his wonderful observations of wildfowl. It influenced and sparked my lifelong interest in wildfowl and I have fond memories of cycling from my fathers farm to the East Lighthouse at Sutton Bridge to observe wild ducks and geese in their natural environment. The East Lighthouse was home to Peter Scott for a number of years and it is where his idea to create the Wildfowl Trust was conceived.
Also when I was at boarding school at Kings in Ely, I had a wonderful art teacher called Norman Wady. It was he who really helped me develop my art during my time at school and I owe him a huge debt.
Art and business began to weave together in Alans working life.
On leaving Ely, the obvious priority was to earn some money and I found myself in London working in Harrods Picture Gallery as an assistant salesman. One day a lady customer asked my boss if he knew of an artist who painted murals. My boss pointed at me and said he does. Panic set in but she seemed to like what I did. My first foray into paid work!
After working at Harrods, a spell at the countrys leading artists materials company followed. Winsor & Newtons showroom was situated just off Oxford Street and during Alans time there, he met many other artists. I gained invaluable knowledge into their manufacturing processes, which has been of considerable benefit to me over the years.
It was at this time that I enrolled into life drawing classes at St Martins School of Art and made a change of direction in career terms. I joined a small advertising agency based in Fleet Street and over a period of time was trained in advertising and marketing. The agency eventually became the target of a series of mergers and take-overs finally being absorbed into Saatchis.
A move to another agency brought me into contact with a colleague. We became good friends and this led to a business partnership running our own advertising agency in London for almost 30 years. During this time I always continued my artistic work within the business and undertook many commissions along the way. I think my work hangs in seven countries throughout the world.
Retirement from the advertising business has led to Alan developing his art and exhibitions, commissions and commercial work have followed. He has also trained as a framer in order to have more control over the presentation of his work .
My favourite places to paint tend to be coastal although new subject matter is always just around the corner. Living in Suffolk provides constant opportunities for my work and gives me endless motivation to paint. My subject matter ranges from those massive Suffolk skies to the running hare and much in between.
A recent spell living in Ireland was an interesting experience culminating in an exhibition at The Sheen Falls Hotel in Kenmare, Southern Ireland. A very different canvas and atmosphere to Suffolk, he says.
Alan has the enviable advantage of working from his garden studio just outside Framlingham, using various media which include water colour, oils, pen and wash and pastels.
There are a great number of artists whose technique and style have both fascinated and interested me over the years, says Alan. Apart from the great masters, I suppose the most notable are people like David Hockney, Sir William Russell Flint, Harry Becker, Edward Seago. Edward Wesson, Rowland Hilder, David Gentleman, Sir Hugh Casson, Thomas Chamberlain, and Ken Howard.
I regard myself as so lucky to be spending almost every day doing something I love, not to mention the enormous encouragement and support I get from my wife Pat, he says.
Alan says he can be visited at his studio (by appointment), where original paintings, prints, postcards and handmade cards are always available. For more information go to his website www.alanbridgesart.co.uk or email abridges@globalnet.co.uk

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