A look at the work of High Lane animal artist Paul Tavernor
Paul Tavernor from High Lane kept the wolf from the door with mundane jobs, now he's much in demand as an artist
Capturing the beauty of animals in the wild has won artist Paul Tavernor a worldwide following among collectors.
Clearly his fans are drawn to his powerfully delineated images. A deer majestically stares out of the frame at the onlooker, the wily old fox strides purposefully towards its prey, a sinewy hare leaps up into view and the lithe form of wolves prowl the canvas. Paul has taken the animal kingdom as his inspiration and the results are breathtaking.
It certainly is no mean feat for a self-taught artist, who after being born in Ashton-under-Lyne, has spent most of his life in Cheshire.
‘I’ve had no training at all, I’m entirely self-taught and I consider that to be a bit of luck as I have not fallen into any stereotype – a tricky thing to do because everything has been done before in this day and age,’ explains Paul who lives and paints in High Lane village.
‘I think it is one of my greatest achievements really.’‘I was always interested in wildlife, even as a child and I loved animals, so what I tried to do was capture a frozen moment of a secretive and wild creature. I wanted to fix that animal in time.’
One of his favourite subjects of the animal kingdom is wolves, which he paints with complete sensitivity, so the creatures are both wildly beautiful and at the same time slightly threatening in their power. He’s never gone out to hunt down a pack but says he has his very own ‘wolf’ at home.
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‘She’s called Tala and she’s a Native American dog and descended from the wolf,’ he says.
‘I don’t draw her but if I want to create a certain look in the eye or need to check on some physical detail, then I will use her for reference.’As an award-winning full-time professional artist Paul can look back and admit that even when he was forced to make a living in mundane jobs, he still worked on commissions for some of his clients.
Now, having been runner-up as the UK’s Best Selling Artist by the Fine Art Trade Guild for three consecutive years, alongside household names like Rolf Harris and having gained a national publisher and being well-known in galleries throughout the UK, he pretty much pleases himself about his subjects, the animals he loves.
Paul, who lives with his wife, Samantha and daughters Rainey, six ,and Aster, aged three, paints his subjects in his studio at the bottom of the garden. Although these creatures are based on real animals and technically superb, they are very much the product of his imagination.‘I just want that atmospheric and secretive type of look - that really does inspire me,’ he enthuses.
‘And I’ve got another inspiration – a big inspiration of mine. I’m a huge fan of JMW Turner, in particular one painting called Rain, Steam and Speed. It’s the image of the first locomotive over Brunel’s bridge in Maidenhead. It was seeing that for the first time, that key thing in my life that set me on to doing animals in movement. That always stayed in my head through every single painting that I do.’
Another influence is of course Cheshire itself, where Paul roams for inspiration.
He adds: ‘Many people don’t see that Cheshire has countryside and yet it is one of the greenest places in the UK. They call it “leafy Cheshire” and it really is. If you go off and explore the side roads you’ll find there’s so much countryside around.’
Paul has garnered a loyal following over the years and has some famous clients, though he’s not saying who. Because his work is an oil on canvas medium they are all priced between £300 and £5,000, rather affordable for original art.
Fans of his work can find out what he’s been doing via the Leaping Fox gallery at www.paultavernor.co.uk
He is also a regular exhibitor and main prize winner at the National Exhibition of Wildlife Art. He has won several other national accolades, including a Mail on Sunday award. He plans in 2013 to exhibit more often, bringing his work to an even wider audience.
The Leaping Fox Gallery01663 766568 / 07847 924178www.paultavernor.co.uk