Getting creative in Dave's 'barn'
In March, acrylic artist and music promoter Dave Palmer, from Startforth, was about to unveil the fourth painting in his series depicting alternative views of Barnard Castle landmarks when the lockdown took hold. Three months on, he is looking forward to feedback on his latest work, which features the Market Cross amid the rooftops and will be turned into postcards to add to those already available.
How did you get started as an artist and what is your medium?
As a child I was reasonably good at art at school. My ambition was to go to art college but for various reasons that was not possible.
I bought some materials and continued painting as a hobby. I struggled with oil paint and then discovered acrylic paint and that is the medium I use today.
As far as music is concerned, I do not play an instrument and anyone who has heard me sing will tell you that I should stick to painting and drawing.
However, music has been an inspiration throughout my life and I have been able to get involved in various ways.
As a sometime roadie/ merchandise seller and occasional album reviewer, I have helped promote specific musicians and chaired a music festival committee for five years.
What inspires your music most, and which other artists have influenced your artwork?
I prefer to organise gigs for unsigned original musicians and bands in smaller venues – the first rung on the ladder of playing on a stage to a live audience.
These small venues struggle to survive more than larger festivals, yet they are a vital stepping stone for musicians to go onto bigger venues. Financially all I take out of organising the gigs is enough to cover my costs of the promotion. The real payback for me is to see both audience and band end the night feeling that the show was something special and unique.
That’s what makes it worthwhile. It doesn’t happen every time, but the next gig could be the one.
The biggest influences on my artwork is J M W Turner, Monet, Lowry and surrealist painters such as Salvadore Dali along with the architect Gaudi.
What is your favourite artistic style?
Anything that gets the message across in the most communicative way.
The dale has a wealth of artistic talent, what do you attribute this to?
Having lived here for four years I’m not sure that I’m best placed to answer this question, but here goes.
For me it is the combination of the dramatic landscape, its historic buildings, its farming and industrial heritage along with the various people, characters and communities that have had such a lasting impact on Teesdale.
As a relative outsider coming to live here suddenly confronted with such a rich tapestry of Teesdale life, I am not surprised that Teesdale produces such a wealth of artistic talent or that other artists are attracted to the area.
What is your favourite work and why?
Shortly after we moved to Barnard Castle, we took a walking holiday in the Lake District.
My wife Kathy persuaded me to get up one morning just after 5am to walk up Bowfell. I am not an early riser and I have to admit to being more than a bit grumpy, but when we entered a long valley with Bowfell at the far end just as the sun broke over the valley ridge, it was just an amazing sight.
I took a number of photographs and when I got back home painted Bowfell. This was my first work on canvas for some 30 years. It’s maybe not my best work but it is the one that started me painting again, thanks to my wife Kathy.
Do you have a special place where you create your work?
Yes, we have a small piece of land adjoining our home. There was a derelict stone shed which we had restored with the help of a local builder. We call it “the barn” and I use it as my studio.
Apart from art, what are your other interests?
I keep fit by doing some running, (Teesdale Athletic Club offer a running schedule to suit all abilities and are very welcoming), and I also do some walking and spend time in and around our home.
Do you have a favourite piece of art from another artist and can you explain what draws you to it?
The Fighting Temaraire, by J M W Turner.
The ghostly image of the Temaraire, one of the Navy's finest sailing ships, is being towed to the breakers yard by a paddle steamer as the sun sets. It serves as a stark reminder that nothing ever stays the same, time and progress move on and on and we all have to change with it.
How are you keeping yourself busy while the country is under lockdown?
Thanks to the very good weather during the lockdown I busied myself by digging out dozens of brambles and weeds from our paddock and generally carrying out lots of DIY work.
For anyone who hasn’t seen your artwork, where they can view it?
My Barnard Castle prints on display at the Sandra Parker Studio.