Neil Dawson has always enjoyed the freedom, spontaneity and escapism of painting. After becoming inspired during his travels, he rekindled his passion for art and is now known for his emotive city portraits.

History and Background

Although Neil had loved art since childhood, he found his studies at Central Saint Martins in London counterproductive to his uninhibited creativity.

He explains: “Discussing, dissecting – and, to an extent, justifying – what I was doing just seemed alien and troubling to me. I did not know how to talk about my work, and I did not want to. I would rather people take what they want from it than tell them what they should be seeing and thinking.”

Neil went on to complete an economics degree and establish a banking career before his true calling beckoned.

Ideas and Inspirations

Inspired by the newspapers, TV and cityscapes that infiltrate his everyday life, Neil’s old passion for painting was sparked once more during his travels. Surrounded by exciting new cultures, experiences and environments, he used his camera as an artistic outlet until he could return home and brush off his palette.

Whenever inspiration strikes, he tears out references from magazines or scribbles notes and sketches on scraps of paper.

He says: “I am on a constant learning curve with my painting. Even in a disastrous piece, I can usually find something – whether it’s a colour scheme, mark-making method, or composition – that can be developed for a new work. It’s an exciting and evolving process that keeps me fresh, inspired and coming back for more.”

From Palette to Picture

Neil works on up to ten pieces at any one time. Using photographic references as a starting block, he allows his fingers to create the art his mind has not yet formulated.

He explains: “Personally, I like to build the picture up as a whole, slowly letting the image come into focus rather than working section by section.

“I also like to use my fingers a lot in the early stages. The versatility and speed with which the paint can be applied encourages me to work freely, energetically and instinctively.

“I think if you are an artist, you are an artist 24/7. You never step out of the office, as it were. It affects the way you see and react to the world around you.”