Welsh ( b.1953 )
|Image size||47.4 inches x 35.4 inches ( 120.5cm x 90cm )|
|Frame size||54.3 inches x 42.5 inches ( 138cm x 108cm )|
Sold by Big Sky Fine Art.
Currently one of Wales’ most keenly collected artists, Gwyn Roberts was born in 1953 in Llanrwst, the Conwy Valley, North Wales, part of the Snowdonia National Park. From a very early age he appreciated and loved his surroundings and has always spent his spare time walking, climbing and immersing himself in the Welsh landscape.
He studied fine art at Norwich School of Art and then returned to Wales to do a postgraduate course at Cardiff College of Art during the 1970s.
Now known as a landscape artist who paints with a palette knife, Roberts’ style was initially very different. During the 1980s he produced a series of successful fine art screen prints and detailed meticulous paintings of still life, often flowers. His use of paint was intricate and his works were exhibited widely in galleries throughout Britain.
He then found that the demands of family life, and a career teaching for over thirty years in the Cardiff area meant that he had little time to devote to his art. However, he then had an accident, which restricted the movement in his thumb joint, and the realisation that he had nearly lost his ability to paint sent him back into the studio. What could have proved a restriction in fact resulted in him developing a new freedom of style. He says “Suddenly I couldn’t work meticulously any more. I found it difficult to write, or even to hold a pen, so that was when I started experimenting with the palette knife, which is very direct and dramatic.” He thus switched from fine brushwork to thick oil paint applied with confident strokes of the palette knife.
Robert’s dramatic use of the palette knife, and his love of Welsh landscapes, have inevitably caused comparisons with the late Sir Kyffin Williams. “He’s even more dramatic; the thickness of paint he used is super-dramatic and the strokes are much bigger,” says Roberts. Another key difference is their choice of palettes; Kyffin favoured just a handful of earthy tones whereas Roberts uses a wider, and increasingly bright palette.
The style that Robert’s has now made his own is powerful, almost three-dimensional. His paintings capture the grandeur of his native Snowdonia and the wildness of the West Wales coast.
“Putting paint on thickly in a very quick, dramatic way goes with the Welsh landscape,” he says. “It somehow captures something about it; people tend to like the slightly three dimensional relief effect that you get and the fact that when you use thick paint it looks different at different times of the day.”
Each painting begins with a sketch on the canvas using oil pastels; after that, the application of paint is a totally instinctive process.
“One of the lessons I’ve learnt is not to be afraid to introduce new colours and to try different palettes to see the effect you can get,” he says. “When you’ve got dramatic light you get wonderful reds and yellow ochre and a dash of purple. As an artist you can accentuate them; you take reality and change it into something more gutsy that really gets to you.”
The other major lesson he has learnt is to leave his days of meticulous, fussy paintings firmly in the past.
“The freer the paintings are the better they are,” he says. “The more I dwell and fiddle with them, the less successful they are. The battle I have all the time is to keep them simple.”
Still a keen walker, Roberts tries to get a fresh perspective on scenes – and his love of extreme, sometimes dizzying perspectives has caused walking magazines to dub him “the walker’s painter”. He has said that his motivation is always to find a dramatic viewpoint that will translate well into a painting. “You have to get yourself into a good position so you get that sense of drama,” he says. “I’m always scrambling around on the edge of the coast looking for a good vista and I tend to instantly create a frame in my brain so that I know what the composition is going to be.”
Since becoming a full time artist, Gwyn Roberts’ work has been in great demand and over the last few years he has had sell out shows in the Cotswolds and Cardiff Wales. He has received high praise from both art critics and enthusiastic collectors. His work has featured in Country Life and a number of mountaineering and art magazines, and on television.