Neil Dawson has enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of painting ever since he was a small boy. Finding comfort in the escapism, he continued his academic artistic foray at Central Saint Martins College in London.
However, it wasn't until Neil embarked on an extended period of travel that his love for art truly came alive. The relentless exposure to landscapes and cities and "enchanting, strange, evocative, provocative, bewildering environments" so far removed from anything he had encountered thus far was the catalyst for Neil's creative flare. He came home with a lot of photographs, and immediately got to work putting those environments and feelings to paper.
And now, years later, 2020 marks the release of Neil Dawson's latest collection of gorgeous cityscapes: "Time to Reflect". We were lucky enough to be able to ask Neil a few questions to really get an idea of the man behind the art...
Do you remember the piece or the artist that first sparked your artistic flare?
Nothing specific springs to mind, as I have always loved to draw from a very early age. However, I think the group that most influenced me as I took a greater interest in art were the impressionists and Monet in particular. I love their use of color and the looseness of brush strokes. I like to think they too would be fascinated by the artificial light of today as they were with natural light in their day.
When did you first feel as though you had found your distinctive style?
I think my style is always evolving but I have always loved to play around with colour whatever I have painted. I first started to concentrate on cities when I was exhibiting on the Bayswater Road artist market in London. People were attracted to the iconic imagery and vibrant colours of the city at night and I loved the contrast of light and dark and the full spectrum of colour with which I was able to experiment.
You’ve said in the past that you don’t like to tell people what to take from your work, but what does your art mean to you?
I love to paint and create. I enjoy the process more than the end product. That said, I do want my art to be looked at and enjoyed, so creating something that can stir memories and bring enjoyment is very important to me. I find that it gives me a purpose and a meaning to what I do.
Your work features cities from around the globe. Are there any cities that you are dying to visit, or cities that you cannot wait to visit (and paint) again?
I have been lucky to do a fair bit of travelling and see some amazing cities. In addition to my favourite subjects of London and New York (heavily featured in my Time to Reflect collection), I have really enjoyed visiting Sydney, Venice, Rome, Rio and Las Vegas. One place that I am yet to visit but I am often asked about is Dubai. I think that would probably top the to-do list. I also recently saw a program about China and some of those urban areas looked very impressive.
Dorset doesn’t quite have the hustle and bustle of London or New York, but have you spent much time on the sunny south coast, or do you have any plans to visit soon?
It's not an area I am very familiar with, unfortunately. I did visit when I was younger as I had an uncle who lived in the area but I must admit that I can't really remember too much from my time there. However, there are some plans in the pipeline to visit Westover Gallery quite soon, and perhaps an event, so I'm hoping that I get a chance to explore a bit more of this beautiful area in the near future. I'm especially keen to try and do some of the South Coast path as walking is my other passion.