Many of Anthony Giles’ paintings are started ‘plein air’, even the larger canvasses are often started on a windy beach or marsh in Kent and then taken back to the studio where they are ‘worked-up’, over several months, into a finished painting, as a landscape painter he spends much of his time looking at every colour, shadow and reflection of the world around him and then transfers that moment onto canvas.
Somehow a rain soaked canvas, that has sand and grass blown into it, holds onto some of the magic of the moment and that is exactly what Anthony wants from his work. The essence of that moment in Nature when he’s totally absorbed in capturing the image that surrounds him.
Watercolour is used to provide a quick reference sketch and the finished work is always in oil paint, either on wood panel or linen, the oil paint giving a wonderful depth of colour and luminosity.
Heavily influenced by the later work of JMW Turner, Anthony uses traditional methods of a gesso primer, turpentine colour wash, oil mixed with beeswax and turpentine before applying several oil and paint glazes to reach the glowing impasto texture, essence and quality of light found by painting on a beach during a summer squall.
Born in Ramsgate in 1961 Anthony attended Hartsdown Secondary School before studying at London College of Print and Design. His career as a printmaker began in 1979, progressing into photography, graphic design and illustration. During his career he has provided illustrations for, amongst others, The Lady Magazine, Hornby Hobbies, What Video Magazine, Scalextric, ICI Oils, Dreamland and Kent County Council.
As design became digitised during the early 1990’s he studied horticulture and trained as a landscape designer, but a car accident in 2002 left him with injuries and he started to paint as therapy whilst recovering from two major back operations.
Today he exhibits his work in several galleries across the UK and his work is held in private collections as far afield as the United States, Canada, France and South Africa.
My latest work is the culmination of years studying artists like Turner, Seago and Jackson and using their influence in my sketches and paintings of Kent’s varied and beautiful coastline. The perspicacity of any artists work shows with every brush stroke and colour glaze to ensure the subject is captured and defined. I am now consciously moving away from much of the recognisable form of my earlier work towards a more abstraction that conveys power and transient light above everything else which, is what painting the elements is all about. Rainclouds dark and laden above a foaming foreshore with just a glimmer of light on the horizon, or a summer squall moving quickly across a beach or harbour that obliterates all light and form are everything that I love about working on the Kent coast.
Every painting will depict two small sails on, perhaps, an invisible horizon. Those two sails will always show mans struggle against an overwhelming force of nature that may, or may not, allow those two small sails to return home. Coming from a long family history of lifeboat men my respect for the sea is marked by my forefathers names inscribed in the lifeboat station at Eastbourne.
‘The sea is in my blood and in my families history so it seems fitting that a wild unforgiving storm should be the backbone of many of my paintings, as it was for many of my ancestors who would go out on the lifeboats, amid such storms, to rescue lost and endangered souls at sea.’
Many of my paintings are started ‘en plein air’, even some of the larger canvasses and as a result will often have sand or finger marks which are left on the finished piece. This gives the painting a sense of being created right in the middle of an event that is being laid down on the canvas as it happens. Wind that blows the canvas onto wet sand or chalk and rain that washes away the oil are all part of the process of creating something that is taken back into the studio, where, over weeks or sometimes months, that rough wet canvas is nurtured into a finished painting.
It is not unusual for clients visiting my studio to leave with a canvas that has just come back from a wet morning on the beach. It is totally raw and unfinished but holds onto some of that ‘magic’ that I see as an artist, whilst I’m trying to lay the paint onto a wet, sandy canvas and capture that moment when the light is but a knife edge on the horizon and the wind is screaming in my ear that it’s time to go home !