Postman to painter

French landscape

French landscape - Credit: Archant

Terry Wood gave up his mail van to pursue his lifetime ambition. Caroline Foster talks to the Stotfold artist about exchanging post for paints

Terry at work in his home studio

Terry at work in his home studio - Credit: Archant

Since his teenage years, Stotfold’s Terry Wood had a desire to be a professional artist but a lack of faith in himself and other responsibilities prevented him pursuing his dream, until now.

St Albans people in the rain

St Albans people in the rain - Credit: Archant

Wood grew up in Potters Bar and studied at the St Albans School of Art, and for a number of years worked as a paste-up artist in the commercial art sector, learning the publishing page-layout process ‘on the job’. This role came to an abrupt end in the week Wood lost his wife to breast cancer, leaving him to care for their two teenage daughters on his own. ‘After about four years of the paste-up job I knew I needed to try to do something else with my life and applied for a class in fine art,’ he says. Instead, he was encouraged to take a course in two-dimensional art and succeeded in graduating with a degree in the subject.

Woodland scene

Woodland scene - Credit: Archant

‘I wasn’t sure, even then, if I had what it takes to be a full-time artist,’ Wood explains. ‘So I got a job as a postman – which I did for the next 15 years.’

He didn’t give up on art however and the post round gave him time in the afternoons to paint. During this time the kitchen became his studio, until his daughters left home and he was able to convert one of their bedrooms into a dedicated art space.

Wood has now retired and with the support of his wife Janet is pursuing his first love of painting. He takes inspiration from the moment: ‘Something that catches my eye that I can use as a starting point.’ He often sketches his subjects but also captures them with a digital camera, although ‘I don’t paint slavishly from the photographic image’, he explains. ‘I prefer my pictures to take on a life of their own.’

Wood has a love of colour and this has led him away from using oil paints to using acrylics instead. ‘There are some amazing colours available in acrylics. I also like to play with colour, but I’m quite impatient too. Oils take such a long time to dry. With acrylics, if you make a mistake you only have to wait about 10 minutes before you can paint over it.’

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If he could, Wood says he would concentrate on figurative work. He loves painting the female form but said people prefer to buy his landscapes, ‘and it’s more important to be able to sell your work’.

Nonetheless, his portfolio of places is extremely diverse, from scenes of the French Riviera to a rainy day in St Albans. His landscapes of poppy fields, bluebell-laden woodlands and hilltop Tuscan houses have sold well, especially considering he has exhibited only fairly locally thus far, including at Luton Hoo Walled Garden, Cambridge Artspace, Hitchin Museum and Art Gallery and at a St Albans Art Society exhibition, as well as at his home for the Herts Open Studio event last year. His work is currently on display at the Mardleybury Gallery in Datchworth as part of this year’s Herts Open Studios and the Churchgate Gallery in Hitchin.

While his wife is busy working on his PR and securing gallery space, Wood is putting his energies into being what he always dreamed he could be – a professional artist, including taking a short break in France, where he expects to be inspired once again.

To see more, go to or visit Mardleybury Gallery, Mardleybury Farm, Mardleybury Road, Datchworth, or Churchgate Gallery on Churchgate, Hitchin.