When John Pryde sold his furnishings business, he grasped the opportunity to become a full time artist. We found out more about his intriguing work…
‘At 17, I left Brora and came to Aberdeen to study fashion and textile design at Grays School of Art, then started a career in retail visual display’, John explained.
‘I joined Archibalds as display manager,
then became director of buying and store manager, before branching out on my own by buying Alexanders in Rosemount. In 2014, we sold the Alexanders building. It was one of the hardest business decisions I have had to make, but I’m glad the flooring side of Alexanders is still in Rosemount run by my former business partner.
‘I had painted continuously over the years so I felt this was an ideal opportunity to make the next step and become a full-time artist. Unlike many emerging artists, I could take time to evaluate what I wanted to do with my life and concentrate wholly on my passion for painting. I think artists in Scotland struggle a great deal with little or no help from government or any other organisation. Most need a regular job and the danger in that is that their art becomes their hobby. The true potential of that artist sadly becomes lost or diminished.
‘Previously, I was predominantly a landscape painter, painting in watercolour. Through my connections as a buyer, I was fortunate to sell paintings to Lennox Gallery in Loch Lomond. My work at the moment is mainly figurative. I start with an image of a face or figure and let that image develop in an almost imaginary setting. I start with large sheets of thick watercolour paper and use inks to give texture, colour and pattern. This lets me then develop and expand the painting using acrylic and collage effects.
‘I’ve recently started to produce work that has either gold or silver leaf running though the painting, almost giving a simpler Klimt-like effect to the background. I love the more unknown Klimt works such as The Hope 11, which is full of texture, pattern and vibrancy.
‘My paintings develops of their own accord and I can never be sure how a painting will end up looking. That to me is the joy of the creative process. As I have developed over the last few years the pieces are becoming larger, with the last commissioned piece for a hotel in Portugal measuring 3 metres x 2 metres.
‘Our move to Portugal meant that I could fully concentrate on painting but it also meant that I was now influenced with a much more vibrant colour palette and you can see in the development of my work that colour became more important. Now that I’m spending more time back in Aberdeen, I don’t want to lose the vibrancy of colour and return to a more muted palette.
‘Portugal also meant that I was able to finally have an exhibition of over 30 of my paintings at the Rodnyer Gallery in Cascais and the Centro Ismaili Gallery in Lisbon. Both exhibitions were very well attended by both the press and public and I was lucky to sell the majority of the pieces. This has given me the confidence and drive to work towards an exhibition in Aberdeen, I just have to find the right venue!
‘I take great joy in producing pieces of work that are colourful, thought-provoking and almost mystical. I want people to use their own imagination when looking at one of my paintings, making their own stories.’