Artist Michael Abrams - All art work available, originals and signed limited edition prints. At a parents meeting in 1969 when I was eight years old, my junior school teacher Mrs.Knight asked my parents a searching question - ‘Is anyone in your family artistic?’ Although intrigued they both could not recall anyone on either side of my family ever having any artistic ability and so could not throw light on why my teacher thought I had a creative streak. It is still a mystery to this day.
Although I was very average at most school subjects I relished the chance to paint and draw in the art classes. At a time when most teachers and pupils didn’t take art classes very seriously I would arrive early for the lesson and make sure everyone had paper and pencils ready and all the powder paints were topped up and ready to go. This was so no painting time was wasted with children mucking around and I could enjoy a full afternoon being creative.
I look back with regret that art was not encouraged when I moved to my comprehensive school in Leeds in the early 1970’s and this sadly contributed to my failing to get a place at art college when I left school in 1978.
I was however aware that anyone lucky enough to posses any artistic ability should never waste such a wonderful opportunity, so I was more determined than ever to somehow become a professional artist one day.
After leaving school I worked as a fork lift truck driver for 10 years. During this time I worked part time as a freelance card designer with major publishing companies until I finally had the confidence to go full time in 1990.
With only a certain amount of ability and being completely self taught I am proud to say that I have just celebrated my 20th year as a full time professional artist. In that time I have worked and exhibited in New York, designed figurines in Thailand and ceramics for Wedgwood featuring one of my teddy bear characters.
In March 2010 I decided to enter the fine art market and approached Washington Green with a selection of whimsical animal paintings. Since joining them I feel I have already progressed as an artist and look forward to the exciting challenges ahead.
I hope that this inspires others never to give up when times get tough and my story proves you really make dreams can come true.
I find most of my inspiration for my contemporary work comes from tapping into my subconscious mind. I don’t necessarily have to observe things in the traditional sense, I just let my mind take a walk and see where it takes me.
When I paint my dog pictures I like to think people can identify with a certain look that reminds them of their beloved pooch and reminds them of happy times. People often wonder what pets are thinking and I try to make those thoughts come to life by looking into the soul of the animal and then depicting those emotions on canvas. I’m happy however, for you to interpret my paintings how you wish and hope you can make a connection between animal and human.
I have been inspired by the work of artists as diverse as David Hockney, Beatrix Potter and Picasso and in the cartoon styles of Ralph Steadman and Terry Gilliam.
Like most artists I listen to music as I work, especially Classic FM, although I do like to listen to a good debate from time to time especially if it includes the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins!
I paint mainly in both oil and acrylic. I start with a very simple sketch trying to get a pleasing composition. I work very quickly with a limited pallet and ‘feel’ my way around the canvas until I am happy that the colour harmony and the brush stokes.
I often apply paint with rags and use my fingers to manipulate the paint and give energy to the line work.
Although my animal creations are painted in a contemporary style I like the think I achieve a certain realism when it comes depicting the character unique to the species. The real fun for me starts when I have completed 99% of the painting and only the eyes are left to paint. As soon as I add the pupils I cannot help smiling as suddenly there is an animal with a personality staring back at me!
Most days start with either a cross country jog or a trip to the gym. This is important as not only does it keep me fit and healthy but it is where I think up new ideas. I usually start painting about 9.30am in my home studio and continue until the light fades which can be quite late in the summer. I prefer to sketch ideas in the evening when the light is not so important.
At the end of the day I always ask my wife Mandy for her opinion as she views everything with a fresh eye and always gives her honest opinion. I usually work on many paintings at once so I can revisit them at different times and spot any potential problems early.
It’s amazing how tiring and frustrating painting can be sometimes, but to have a career doing something I love is a rare thing and one which I never take for granted.