A Colourful Exploration of Coast and Countryside – Interview with Mike Bernard
Mike Bernard’s 11th solo show at Marine House at Beer.
Award-winning artist and member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Mike Bernard RI will be showcasing a range of new paintings for his 11th solo show at Marine House at Beer this September.
Mike’s new exhibition Exploring Devon’s Jurassic Coast & Countryside (with trips to Venice and London) will incorporate over 30 local paintings, as well as some landscape works from London and Venice.
This is your seventh solo show at Marine House at Beer, how did this relationship begin and how has it developed throughout your career?
It is in fact my eleventh, ( 11th ), solo show! A watercolour book was being launched in Exmouth in which I was one of the contributors. I used the opportunity to drop in some of my previous exhibition catalogues to the gallery having heard good comments about the gallery. Two days later the owner, Mike Lambert phoned me inviting me to exhibit a small group of paintings. I was extremely lucky that those pictures sold very quickly. As a result, I was invited to exhibit in a two-person show with Tina Stokes which again was very successful. A pattern of solo exhibitions every 18 months followed together with a growing demand for my work in the gallery between shows. My involvement with the gallery has grown with me taking part in Art Fairs in Bristol, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Do you think the introduction to online art galleries and e-commerce has had a significant impact on brick and mortar galleries?
Difficult for me to comment as I have never been involved with online galleries, my sales have almost been through brick and mortar galleries.
Having had such a long-spanning career as an award-winning artist, what would you say are the most recently introduced struggles for artists?
I feel I am established now and people know my work, but if you are a young artist starting out the art world must appear very competitive. Customers now have a huge choice from where to buy artwork, the Internet, chain-like galleries, pop up galleries, art fairs, etc., which is excellent for the customer, but with fewer galleries like the Marine House who represents an artist like myself and helps them develop and supports their career, it must be very difficult for an emerging artist to get established.
How has your artistic style progressed over the years and what would you say is the biggest catalyst to these changes?
Through art school and for about 10 years afterwards I painted with oils. The biggest catalyst was when I started painting in mixed media, which incorporated paper collage and acrylics. This was triggered by my experiences teaching art students. To encourage them to be looser and to experiment more I introduced them to mixed media. Excited by the results I experimented myself. I found myself liberated from my previous tight, realistic style. The paintings I produced were immediately successful and I haven’t looked back since!
It is clear that geography plays a huge part in your work, what is your favourite destination to paint?
I am completely split between the West Country, ( Cornwall and Devon ) and Italy. I like the rugged textures and muted colours of the harbours and the shapes colours of fishing boats, whereas I like to paint the bright blue skies of Italian scenes, plus I am attracted to the wonderful worn textures and faded colours of Italian architecture.
What would you say is advantageous to galleries being a member of the Own Art scheme?
I meet many people at private viewings at my exhibitions who are first time buyers and are understandably nervous about investing a lot of money into their first painting. So, having a scheme whereby they can buy a picture they really want straight away, but can spread the cost is a huge plus for them.
Do you have a favourite piece of work in your exhibition ‘A colourful exploration of coast and countryside’?
I always love painting Beer, even the name is magic! Because of my long association with the gallery and the village, I have developed quite a soft spot for the place and its people. My favourite picture is probably the picture “Devon Fishing Village, Beer”, it is the largest painting I have ever done of Beer and hopefully captures the essence of the place!
The solo exhibition runs from Saturday 21st September to Friday 4th October 2019 at Marine House at Beer.
The solo show will be open daily from 10am – 5.30pm, and everyone is welcome to attend the launch day on Saturday 21st September from 11.00am when Mike will be present.
Simply contact the gallery on 01297 625257 for an invitation and colour catalogue.