This article was originally published in Invest In Style Magazine.
 

John Castle grew up in the 1950s in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, a countrified village set among ancient woodlands, four miles outside of Windsor Castle. By  John’s account, it was an idyllic place to live and the setting that inspired his earliest landscape drawings and paintings. John’s artistic abilities were innate and became apparent early in his life, although he would not formally hone his craft until the early 1980s when he received a bursary to study Fine Art at Amersham College.

 

His most memorable learning from his Amersham days was that “it’s not what you paint, but how you paint.” This mantra was fortified while attending an exhibition in London with his first-year class. It was there that John saw his first Van Gogh paintings, The Road Menders and Couple in The Park. John recalls that “they stunned. They had so much life. Close-up I could see the contrast in colour, the thickness of paint. It was chewing-gum thick! I was in awe of how Van Gogh approached form and contrast – hundreds of intricacies within each painting.”

 

 

After graduating with a Fine Arts Degree, John moved on to Farnham and the West Surrey School of Art and Design where, he says, “they allowed me to experiment with large-scale works and abstract paintings.” It was at this time that John began selling his paintings in shops and galleries in Brighton and sold his carved lamps, with painted Botticelli heads, to the National Portrait Gallery. His lamps, which he continues to create, were inspired by Omega Workshops, an arts and crafts collective that was formed after WWI. The group of artists included Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf’s sister. Their interest was in applying art to ordinary objects, like doors, furniture and fabric, rather than confining themselves to canvas. “I related to them,” John says, “the idea was that if you had a bigger span of work, you could be experimental.”

 

Upon meeting his Canadian then-girlfriend in 2002, John moved to Prince Edward County. Moving into a home with a spacious barn, he was able to again experiment with large-scale paintings and sculpture. He says, “I brought my British quirkiness with me.” John’s most recent collection, entitled 50 Things, is based on a concept he conjured in his school days. “When I was in Brighton,” John recalls, “I did two paintings, quickly, representing 50 things that happened that day.” In one of the sketches, John painted Lady Diana, who had died that day, and a figure of a bride from a news story of a woman who was killed on her wedding day by a jilted lover. There was also a stop sign, a reminder of his childhood street: “I painted what I saw or heard, no matter how significant or incidental. When I look back at those paintings today, I remember each of those details, yet I can’t tell you what I did yesterday!”

 

 

Expanding on why he’s returned to this theme, John adds that, “when you put one idea next to another, they take on a collective idea. It’s interesting to see how the images relate to one another.” John begins his painting by writing down 50 things that he remembers from the day. He explains that “they can be stories that I hear, that touch or move me. Funny things. Sad things. The little things. ”Like John’s career, his 50 Things series is a continual experiment.

 

John’s studio is located in Bloomfield, Ontario, and his paintings and carvings can be purchased through www.artcollectif.com

 

This article was written by Erika Floysvic, Founder, Art Collectif

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