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I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. My father, Lawrence Stangroom was an artist/illustrator and this was obviously a huge influence in my life. He schooled me in the traditional techniques that he had learned at art schools. It was only in later years that I realized how highly he was regarded among his peers and how lucky I have been to have had such a thorough grounding from such a talented man.
We often worked together on perspective illustration projects and it was my job to set up the linear perspective part and then pass it over to “ Lawrie” , as he was known, to finish in his style. The clients never knew. It was technically challenging and the tight deadlines kept us on our toes. It also meant that we would get together on a regular basis to discuss the projects and the paintings that we were doing for ourselves.
Illustration and teaching have been the core income to enable me to pursue my own work. This has evolved over many years and within that various themes have kept on emerging. I grew up in Washington (Tyne and Wear) and watched as the small villages based around the coal mines and surrounded by woods and farmland, were torn down or infilled with factories and houses. So the themes of buildings and therefore windows evolved as I saw peoples homes being demolished and the surrounding countryside turned into “ A New Town”.
Alongside this my parents would take us on trips to the moors and dales of the north Penines as well as the highlands of Scotland and I found that I was drawn to the wild and remote parts of these landscapes. This was to remain unfinished business due to the impact that the Himalayas had on me after my first visit in 1980. I was awed by the scale and grandeur of the place and by the toughness and resilience of the local people. I was also impressed by the different styles of building as I went from region to region. I returned to the Himalayan mountains in 1983 after being awarded a bursary from The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation in Canada. This allowed me to paint and explore the mountains for two years and this led to the Himalayan series of paintings, a theme that has lasted for many years and I have returned many times to gather source material for my paintings.
Since moving to Hexham in 2002 I have found the north Pennines and Northumberland to be a new or more accurately a rekindled source of inspiration and is my current series of paintings.
The current window series of paintings is a continuation of a theme that I have been doing rather intermittently for many years. Since returning to Northumberland I have spent a lot of time wandering the fells and have become increasingly interested in the abandoned and often derelict cottages that I come across. I will never know the people who lived there but I find it poignant to look out of the windows seeing what they would have seen. Some of the places I have painted have since collapsed and the paintings are the only record left.
The paintings take time to produce and involve layer upon layer of delicate washes to create the light, atmosphere and mood of the various scenes that I paint. I will often wait for a number of years before painting some of the places and visit them at different times of the year to try and understand why a particular place has had an impact on me. I suppose the paintings are my way of trying to understand why these places have struck some kind of chord or resonance with me.