Lucy welcomes “Friend” cover artist, Mike Weston, whose work appears on this week’s cover – issue-dated October 28.
Can you tell us how you became a ‘Friend’ illustrator?
I submitted a watercolour of Horsey Mill in Norfolk which was judged the winner.
I was then given the opportunity to paint a cover picture of The Isles of Scilly and so began my journey as a Friend illustrator.
I only started painting as a hobby in 1993 after a nervous breakdown, and during recovery I found solace watching Alwyn Crawshaw’s painting programme.
What’s your favourite piece of artwork you’ve been commissioned to produce for the magazine, and why?
My favourite commission so far has to be Iona because it has buildings, water and boats.
Can you run us through the commissioning process?
Karen normally rings me then sends an e-mail with a photo of the scene, which I can download, along with instructions like ‘remove the lamp post’, ‘make it sunny’, ‘can you make it autumn’, ‘not too many clouds’, and a deadline – which being retired, is usually not a problem.
My method is to lay out the illustration onto a sheet of NOT watercolour paper (smooth), I normally use a rough paper but this I’ve found is not the best for publication. I use a 0.3 mm pen to reinforce the most important parts of the illustration.
Where do you prefer to paint?
I usually paint in my ‘man cave’ or at a weekly art group.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
I prefer watercolours, it can be so unpredictable, but very rewarding, I do paint in oils.
Which artists do you find inspiring?
Artists that inspire me are Edward Seago, David Curtis and one that taught me the most, no relation, David Weston, a Leicestershire artist.
And finally – do you have any advice for anyone who’d like to try their hand at painting?
Drawing is the most important part. If you look at any object it is made up of circles, squares, cones or rectangles. Start with these basic shapes then fill in the fine details.
And be careful painting from photographs – the camera never shows tonal distance and may also distort buildings.
I’m very proud to be part of the “People’s Friend” team.