Martin Swan's main interest is in abstract painting. Even with marine subjects, it is the abstract qualities of boats, quaysides etc that attracts him the most - shapes, lines, angles and colours. More figuratively, Martin enjoys painting large panoramic seas and skies with boats as small incidental features. His early interest in landscapes is returning.
Formerly a watercolour artist, Matin now paints mostly in oils.
Some paintings are painted in situ. These direct, somewhat sketchy paintings are usually tidied up in the studio later on. But sometimes not.
Other, more studio bound paintings, begin with doodles, using drawings, colour sketches and photographs as source material. If the subject is historical, he uses other artists’ drawings and paintings (perhaps of similar boats), deckplans, old photographs, verbal descriptions, anything that gives him an idea of what the thing looked like. Marin also draw on my photographic archive of seas and skies.
With the doodles Martin tries out various compositions, looking for different ways to use the material. When he has got something he likes, Martin produces a half-size drawing, which finalises the composition and establishes correct proportions. This is copied full-size onto the canvas and painting begins.
My painting is a fairly direct and simple process. I block in the drawing with colour in a loose, sketchy way, eliminating the white of the canvas so I can better judge how the colours work against one another. When this is dry I go over it more carefully, adjusting colour if necessary, bringing the painting to a point of near completion. Finally there is touching up and highlighting.
Sometimes, I like to underpaint with opposite or complementary colours. When dry, I overpaint using a trowel to apply a layer of thick paint, but leaving gaps through which the underpainting shows. The effect is to heighten the colour and produce interesting textures. That, anyway, is the hope.
And if I like it, I sign it.
1951 Born on 14th April in Newport, Isle of Wight
1976-9 BA Hons Philosophy, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth
1980-1 Postgraduate Certificate in Biblical Studies PGCE, University College, Aberystwyth
2003 Elected as an associate member, Royal Society of Marine Artists
2005 Elected full member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists
Annual: Isle of Wight Landscape Exhibition, Ventnor, Isle of Wight.
Royal Society of Marine Artists, Mall Galleries, London.
2002 Jonathan Grant Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand.
2003 Trinity House Gallery, Waikawa, Picton, New Zealand.
2004 National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London (RSMA).
“Inside Outside”, Rope Store Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
2005 Portsmouth Cathedral (RSMA).
2006 Summer Madness, Mall Galleries, London.
2007 “Inside Outside” House of Commons, London.
I See No Ships (one man show), Rope Store Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
2008 Location, Michael West Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
Summer Madness, Mall Galleries, London.
The Little Gallery, Mousehole, Cornwall (RSMA)
2008 The Yarmouth Gallery (one man show), Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.
2009 No Man is an Island, Rope Store Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
2010 Fieldwork (one man show), Rope Store Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
The Wyckham Gallery, Stockbridge, Hampshire. (RSMA).
The Gallery, Quarr Abbey, Ryde, Isle of Wight.
2011 International Island Games HQ, Sandown, Isle of Wight
The Gallery, Quarr Abbey, Ryde, Isle of Wightt
2012 Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, London.
360 Degrees, Michael West Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
The Gallery, Quarr Abbey, Ryde, Isle of Wight.
The Big Wight Space, Rembrandt Gallery, Newport, Isle of Wight.
2013 The Michael Hawker Gallery, Amersham, Berks.
Mitchell Fine Art, London
Duet, Micheal West Gallery, Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight.
2014 The Sea Pictures Gallery, Clare, Suffolk.
The Staithes Gallery, Staithes, Yorkshire. (RSMA).
The Gallery, Quarr Abbey, Ryde, Isle of Wight
The Depozitiory Salon, Ryde, Isle of Wight.
2015 The Michael Hawker Gallery, Amersham, Berks.
St Barbe Museum Gallery, Lymington, Hants. (RSMA).
Kendalls Fine Art, Cowes, Isle of Wight.
The Open Exhibition, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight.
2005/6 Speigel Der Zeilvaart
2004/5 Traditional Boats and Tall Ships
Martin prefers to paint large panoramic seascapes or contemporary harbour scenes (focusing on their abstract qualities). The artist frequently receives highly specific and detailed briefs, and is used to complying with commissions that ask for a specific background, lighting and composition. Some works will be painted in situ, and some will be produced solely in the studio; for example historical scenes which tend to be based on the artist's research. The time period required to see a commission through to the end will vary depending on size and complexity, but typically will take at least one month.
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Martin Swan RSMA - 2016
Martin Swan RSMA - 2019