Artist Antony Gibs - All art work available, originals and signed limited edition prints. Born in Birmingham in 1951, he attended Bournville School of Art although Anthony is primarily a self-taught artist: “My affinity with painting started early. I remember when I was in junior school having a fascination with Wyatt Earp, I used to do paintings at school of cowboys with their shiny guns in their holsters and wearing their hats etc. I also did pictures of Vikings in long boats and Normans in theirs and the teacher used to put them on the wall.
One of my early heroes was John Constable and landscape was my obsession. It was later that I started painting wildlife. Although I painted animals in my landscapes and had experimented in painting some wildlife out of books, the catalyst for my wildlife painting started with the television programme ‘The World About Us’ about David Shepherd and his art and career.
I was so inspired by the work I saw and the way he painted it, as soon as the programme finished I rushed upstairs and painted a zebra galloping across the African plains in a cloud of dust! This all happed in 1971 after leaving school and then The Bournville School of Art after just one year there in 1969. I am mostly self-taught.
I will have a go at anything but my favourite subjects are trees and the big cats. I also love to paint elephants. However, I feel any subject I am working on at the time is a favourite. Skies, I find fascinating, they can make a big difference in a painting. I have done many oil sketches of clouds over the years; they change so quickly it teaches you to observe and paint fast. I love capturing light and detail: how the sunlight catches a tiger’s fur and plays on it’s surface, how the texture of an oak tree is affected and altered by lichen and moss on it’s bark, the reflections in a leopard’s eye, how a spark of sunlight caught in it’s corner brings the eye to life! The way wet mud glistens in the sun on the hide of an elephant.
If I can communicate the enthusiasm and fascination for all these things and more, through my painting it would bring a tremendous sense of pleasure to me. In the years when I first started painting to earn a living, I painted in gouache on bristol board in a wide range of subjects from sanpans to silver birch trees, street scenes to landscapes and loads of different animals. I went to the Masai Mara, the Aberderes and Tsavo game reserves in Kenya for the first time in 1989. I also get a lot of reference material and inspiration from visiting zoos and safari parks, books and wildlife programmes can also trigger ideas.
I usually start work about 9.30 and then on week days I stop to do my daily exercises until just before lunch. After lunch I will work till 6.00. In the summer I might work on after tea, but I prefer to paint in daylight if I can so I don’t work much after six in the winter months, although I used to.
I only paint with the finest materials on the best quality canvas or papers. Cold pressed linseed oil rather than refined linseed oil for example has a reduced suede effect when brushing out and does not yellow with age like refined linseed oil. I have used other mediums apart from oils but I have never used egg tempura. Oils remain my favourite, you can do anything with them. I also enjoy using pastels, they are so bright and colourful and you do not have to worry about drying times and cleaning paint brushes.
My work is definitely becoming more subtle and refined and I continue to strive to improve the quality of my paintings. I am trying to paint detail and subtleties combined with some spontaneity somewhere in the painting to act as a foil to the detail. If this can be achieved in a balanced way, each complementing the other, I believe you have a work that avoids being too stiff and has more life and intensity.
I love painting big! The larger the canvas I am working on, the more enthusiasm I see to have for the piece. I am a perfectionist and struggle to produce work quickly enough, which is an area I would love to improve.”