I began to paint when I was about 7 years old. I remember my first teacher, Maud Bennett, a most delightful and charming lady who lived in a big ramshackle house on The Island in the River Lee Estuary, Cork. I went every Saturday. We painted, and talked about art: looked at books; drank tea, and walked over to the sea wall in summer, There was a small round Martello tower in an open field by the water. I loved to go there in good weather, and lie in the long grass. Maud lit a fire in me which has burned all these years. I remember her fondly.
I studied a little with my Uncle, Sidney Smith who was portrait and mural painter. He began in Belfast and after the War went to live in London. We had many fun sessions talking art.
Then when I left legal practice in about 1978/9 I started working with Peter John Garrard, PPRBA, NEAC, RP. We established a long, warm and happy friendship. I attended several workshops with him, and can still remember his voice and his words. "Painting is about relationship," he said. "It is about finding two colours which you can put down side by side comfortably."
As years went by, I had to return to legal practice, but always clung to my painting soul. I have worked with Thomas Ryan PRHA who has always been generous and helpful. Jeff Reed, an American painter who never used many words, but you always understood what he meant. Randall Exxon too was helpful, as was Ned Mueller, a delightful painter, companion and friend. Antonin Passemard is another great painter and fascinating too work with. He uses a lot of paint with great aplomb.
But perhaps the most important friends in paint have been two Russian painters. Natalia Eremina and Elena Leontieva. They have helped me hone my senses. They have exposed me to Russian painting which is probably unsurpassed. We have worked together in Ireland, Italy and Greece.
To all of these wonderful painters, who have shaped my vision, I am indeed grateful.