I paint in acrylic on fretworked wood, which is layered to give a 3D effect to my paintings. It’s a technique which I evolved myself. I cut the bits out of plywood, paint them, and then the final stage of the process is glueing them all together in the right composition. It means that I can change paintings if they are not working, and I can also recycle bits of them. I’ve got a whole drawer full of plywood leaves and fruit and spoons which one day may be incorporated into a painting.
I was working with Leeds Playhouse Theatre in Education in the 70s, and the stage manager showed me how to do fretwork with a coping saw, to make displays for the Playhouse foyer. In the 80s I went to Spain to teach English, taking my saw and paints. I taught in the evenings, so I painted a lot during the day. I used to wander in the local park, looking for suitable greenery to paint, and I also started painting fruit and vegetables from the local market – I really enjoy doing strings of garlic and onions. I found painting a great antidote to teaching. When I moved back to a teaching job to Hastings, I widened my range of subjects to include buildings, boats, fish, cheese and biscuits and other food.
I’ve always painted a lot of cats, mainly portraits of friends’ pets. I like doing birds too, but have been less successful with dogs. I’ve had some strange commissions, including a dodo; a monkey sitting on a bookcase; and a tortoise with a hot air balloon in the background (that was for a 25th wedding anniversary). I work both from real life and from photos.
I have no formal art training, though I come from a family of artists. My mother was an art teacher and an ARCA, my brother Phil Evans was a political cartoonist and my brother Jonathan is a batik artist.