Congleton artist Craig Mayer paints a winter wonderland in watercolours
Congleton artist Craig Mayer has a passion for painting Cheshire landscapes and sights, especially during winter. WORDS BY RACHAEL HOGG PAINTINGS BY CRAIG MAYER
I love the Cheshire landscape; the very low lying trees and fields against huge skies. Nothing inspires me more than what I see in front of me,’ says artist Craig Mayer.
Since moving to Cheshire in 1985 from neighbouring Staffordshire, Craig’s beautifully detailed watercolours of Cheshire landscapes and villages are charming and inspiring locals, and winning the heart of National Trust personnel.
Although Craig, aged 50, says he ‘can’t quite achieve the quality of the old masters,’ he showed promise as an artist from a young age at Archbishop McIntyre school in Staffordshire, the county he was born in. ‘I had always wanted to be an artist. My teachers told me I could grasp detail and landscape.’ After studying Art and Design in the Potteries at Staffordshire Polytechnic, Craig moved to Congleton and then began to paint commercially.
Cheshire’s myriad small villages and rolling hills have long drawn in walkers and provided inspiration for artists and photographers. ‘What inspires me is the surrounding landscape in Cheshire. It fascinates me. I love the beautiful villages and I particularly like painting historic buildings. I love all the different colours in the sky during winter. It’s very much a time I love to paint.’
Working with a limited palette of only six or seven colours, Craig is able to capture the beautifully bleak winter scenes of Cheshire especially well. ‘I enjoy detail. I want people to know that’s exactly how a scene or building looked at that time when I painted it.’ No stone unpainted, no leaf left off a tree, Craig showcases Cheshire in all its detailed splendour.There are certain locations that draw Craig in. A self-confessed Gawsworth addict, Craig loves the village hall and surrounding leafy countryside, unspoiled by time. ‘The village has grown but the trees and fields around there in the shadow of the hall haven’t changed for centuries.’
Craig, who still lives in Congleton with his family manages to balance work at a printing company, family life and his painting. ‘I mostly paint at the weekends and I try to fit it in around a social life. Having the day job and a family means you can’t work all week and then spend the entire weekend painting. But I do try to paint for four to five hours a day.’
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However, working in the printing industry has made it easier for Craig to produce prints, notecards and calendars featuring his work.Alongside his own painting, Craig teaches watercolour classes at his studio and gallery in Victoria Mill, Congleton. ‘I started the classes to help my daughter through university. However, she graduated a few years ago so now I just do it because I enjoy it.’
Craig also works with the National Trust to hold painting days at various properties across Cheshire. ‘That’s the only time I work out on location. I almost always work from photographs.’
Craig’s watercolours can be found in several National Trust properties across Cheshire, including Lyme Park and Dunham Massey. His paintings have also been exhibited in galleries across the county including The Unicorn Gallery in Wilmslow and at the Congleton art society.
Although winters in Cheshire can be unpredictable, Craig Mayer’s watercolours are a pleasant reminder of how stunning the county can look at this time of year.
To see more of Craig’s work visit www.cpmayer.com