Kevin Day’s evocative, quietly authentic industrial scenes originate in his upbringing in South Shields and in his great love for the coal mining and shipbuilding areas around his home in Newcastle. As a child he was awed by the huge tankers and war ships being built at Swan Hunters, and the massive tower of Westoe colliery pit which was at the bottom of his street. Like many young boys at the time, he was a fan of Sci-fi films and when these gigantic structures were lit up at night, they became exciting and slightly enigmatic objects of fascination and beauty to him.
Kevin feels a strong personal attachment to every work and his approach is an emotional one. This gives each piece a certain gritty romance, as the affection and nostalgia comes across in every brush stroke. Influenced by artists such as Edward Hopper and Jamie Wyeth, he also shares much with John Singer Sargent and with many of the painters who simply looked and painted what was in front of them. The other major influence on his work is that of cinema and he particularly admires Ridley Scot, Terrence Malik and Christopher Nolan. His images are always narrative in tone and he aims to tell a story with every scene. The cinematic sweep of each piece is in part the consequence of his dictum that painting “a response to the light and the feel of a moment, a way to communicate this with the viewer.”’
When painting his cityscapes or coastal scenes, Kevin prefers to paint ‘en plein air - from life – in all weathers. Carrying a camera tripod with an easel attachment and an oils tin to hold the oil paint, he has become a familiar sight to locals as he makes his way through town and country ready to paint the beauty he sees in the everyday.
He says: “I feel that painting outdoors is a great experience, both a physical challenge and an artistic one. It can also be more therapeutic than painting in the studio as you have to focus so utterly, and I believe a strong sense of place seeps into the work. Taking on all the distractions makes it exciting. You have lots of changes in light which you have to capture so it makes you work a lot faster and looser.”
Kevin was born and brought up in South Shields. After graduating with a diploma in Illustration he went on to become a successful professional artist whose work has been exhibited to great acclaim in the UK and Europe: he also has collectors as far afield as the USA and Australia. He has undertaken commissions for clients ranging from international folk musician and BBC Radio2 presenter Kathryn Tickell to the Barbour Clothing Company. Kevin is involved in a number of charities and in 2012 he became an ambassador for the Amelia Mae Foundation, which supports families affected by Neuroblastoma.
“I love many places in Britain but my home town, Newcastle, is very close to my heart. It achieves such a rich balance in such a small area of gritty streets with immense character. I love the North East coast and industrial Teesside too, and the beaches and bays of Northumberland have inspired many of my own favourite paintings.”
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