Gavin Penn 

In planning my gallery I needed to paint a body of work. Fortunately the themes for this flowed quite naturally as I painted steadily through a whole year. Artists often gravitate towards the coast and influence of the sea, moorland and incredibly beautiful skies of Northumberland is increasingly evident in my work. 


 Previously I have tended to 'paint and sell' one work at a time, rather than take time out to build up a portfolio. Of course this wasn't going to work for my own gallery (I needed to fill the walls) and so I took a year out to paint and plan.
Although I had had success with my paintings of  'Dancers' I didn't want to focus solely on one theme for my gallery. I like the challenge of different themes, although I have a clear style and people are a common thread throught my work.

From as early as I can remember characterisation in my drawings and paintings has been a fascination. Every school exercise book was covered with my drawings. The inspiration for the 'Characters' theme came from this perennial fascination and was inspired by the style of the nineteen twenties and influenced by some computer games concept art I did a few years back.

'White Tie' was the first of the Character themed paintings. I don't know if he is a Lord or a butler. 'White Tie' was closely followed by the other characters including Lady Mary, after a visit to Alnwick Castle.
​Nineteen twenties America is so much at the forefront of twenties imagery that 'New York Cool' and 'Bonnie and Clyde' were almost inevitable.

​Along side painting, music is my other great passion. I paint to music and much effort went into planning a playlist for my Gallery. I had worked in one gallery with the same tune on an endless loop. Not a bad tune, but on an endless loop...
Although jazz is not my usual musical preference the imagery of Jazz music and musicians drew me to the next painting theme.  It was a challenge to capture the tone and atmosphere for the 'Jazz Blues' theme and I am delighted that these paintings proved to be so popular in the opening weeks of Penn Gallery. After a few trips to the coast at Alnmouth, by this time I was more confident about securing the gallery space in Alnwick, the sea-scape drifted into the background of the Jazz Blues  and the two joyful paintings 'Sax Guy' and 'Sea Sharp Blues' were the result. 

​As a mural and trompe l'oiel artist I painted a lot of skies on ceilings.  I don't want to do that again, but I still like painting skies and you could have no better inspiration than the coast of Northumberland. For me paintings with skies in them have a renaissance feel and I expect the theme of 'Sea and Sky' to be an enduring influence.

​Painting 'Roses' was just to see how flower paintings would turn out. I invested in a bunch of roses and painted the two small white roses (Night Rose and Avalanche Rose) first. I was quite pleased with the results and painted a few more, but I prefer painting people!

​I had always intended to paint in the gallery. I don't mind painting with an audience and I like talking to people. The gallery finally opened in September 2017. The amazing autumn colours of the moorland to the West of Alnwick inspired the first two 'Moor' themed paintings, which were painted in the gallery.

After a great opening for Penn Gallery and a glorious Autumn, winter turned cold. I expected Januray and February to be quiet and I knew that some shops would close. However, it was always my plan to use this time to paint. Usually I prefer to paint in acrylics. I paint quite quickly and this medium suits my painting style and method. Painting speed is good with acrylics because the paint dries quickly, even when mixed with mediums that are intended to slow the drying time. Generally the necessary speed of painting is ideal fo me, but painting in oils can allow for the more subtle blending that might be needed in painting a portrait. For a change I took up oil paints and chose an identifiable face to re-visit painting 'Portraits'. I am pleased with the results and the portrait of Liam in the window of Penn Gallery has attracted much interest.

After a great start I am looking forward to my first full season of painting in Penn Gallery and drawing on the inspiration of this busy town and beautiful area. 

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