Our first solo exhibition by Mark Langley, ‘In the Shade of Leaf’, is a new collection of landscape paintings that take Mark’s work forward in an exciting new direction. The collection demonstrates a variety of experimental styles of working in paint. The exhibition focusses on depicting native trees in local settings, and experiments with lighting, from soft summer evening sun to the contrast of sunshine and shadow. The interview will be on from November 10th to 24th, with a ‘Meet the Artist ‘ day on the 10th from 11am to 3pm.
Read our revealing interview with Mark:
Why did you decide to become an artist?
I have always loved drawing but when I was at school it didn’t really occur to me that it was a potential career, so I went in to further education studying graphic design. I spent a number of years working as a graphic artist where illustration was important in my work and remained a passion. While I was in my 2nd design job I started producing animal portraits for people, just for fun at first but having done a couple word got round and eventually it became a business. I loved the fact I could go back to working in pencil and move away from using a computer to make images just as I did through school and college. In a way art chose me.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by all kinds of things I see around me, I take a camera out with me all the time to capture things I see, whether that be a beautiful landscape or building or just something like lichen on a stone wall. I look for character and beauty and the way light falls on things, whether that be sunshine and shadow on a hill side or reflections on a window. I want to make something a piece of art and not just a photographic representation, it is key to this to find the right view where I can express something more than could be captured in a photograph. I try to show what inspired me about the subject in a drawing or painting, the composition and light are closely considered.
What medium of art do you prefer? Why?
I have drawn for many years, in fact since a young age I was always drawing. My earliest pictures are pencil drawings. I love the precise nature of a pencil tip and what can be done with it. Only at college when I got in to illustration and working to a brief did I see the joy of working in other media.
I first experimented with watercolour in my own time while I was at college as a break from college work. I dabbled in oils when I was about 12 but didn’t get to grips with them until recently. Watercolours and oils have made a comeback for me in recent times and I’m enjoying just using them and trying different things. At the moment I am letting the landscape inform the way I use oil. I don’t really care if the work follows any trend in style or ideas.
Which artist inspires you the most and how have they influenced your work?
So many artists and artistic movements have inspired me, I love the Pre-Raphaelites, the Dutch Golden Age of painting, Canaletto, Joseph Wright, Alphonse Mucha and Andrew Wyeth to name a few. I am always drawn to and inspired by technically excellent work and am hugely impressed by artists who were producing accurate representational art before photography was able to produce high quality full colour images.
Illustrators undoubtedly are special for me, although sometimes overlooked, there is some wonderful art produced by illustrators, in particular I am inspired 20th Century illustration, artists like Norman Rockwell and Drew Struzan. I love the way there is this real understanding of layout and telling a story with a clear message, a camera could do it but not with the same magic. Railway poster design is a really graphic inspiration, something that I admire and always have in my mind when I am creating my landscape paintings. I appreciate the Impressionists and how they took things further with mark making which is especially important to me at the moment with my oil paintings.
I am also inspired by architecture, and architects like Lloyd Wright, Macintosh and Lutyens all have so much they can show me with their way of using proportion and design ideas, they are a constant 3D inspiration.
What do you regard as your major achievement?
I think being featured in, and photographed on the cover of Artists and Illustrators magazine nearly 10 years ago was a real turning point. I had quite a few people recognise me and my work all over the place, this was around the same time I took the plunge and went full time as an artist, so it was an exciting time.
Winning the Derbyshire Trophy in the Derbyshire Open 2017 more recently was a fantastic achievement, not only was I delighted I had won the top prize for my picture “Pavillion Reflections”, the picture was purchased by Buxton Museum and Art Gallery to form part of their collection. It was wonderful to have my watercolours recognized in that way.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
After getting a few commissions out of the way I plan to create some more architectural pictures next, I have lots of ideas for pictures of some carefully selected buildings.
I have been preparing for this exhibition over a year in between shows and commissions, it hasn’t been easy as I have been trying to be more experimental which has at times led to frustrations. I persevere because I want to develop my skills working in paint in order to show some different subjects and some more expressive ideas. Every painting is now an individual in a way. I want to carry on letting my landscapes take me forward one painting at a time.
I am sure that my architectural work will move on and evolve as a result of experimenting, but it will need to continue to be more detailed. The traditional style of drawing that I have previously focused on is well suited to architectural work and it takes long hours to get the end result. I still love this type of work and will continue to create it, but I feel that many people don’t understand the level of technical skill and work required to create a picture like ‘The Garrick and Harvard House connection’. I think that the ability to produce these very technical and detailed drawings at a high standard is probably my unique selling point, it is pretty unusual these days and I hope that I can bring it to a wider audience.