Painting the South Downs: artist Neville Smith

Artist Neville Smith loves painting and loves our gorgeous landscapes. So much so that he decided to travel along the South Downs Way capturing scenes as he went.

Artist Neville Smith began his working life in advertising back when the pictures illustrating the goods for sale were drawings rather than photographs.After Reigate School of Art and National Service in the RAF he started as a paintpot boy at Carlton Artists in London where he literally emptied and filled paintpots and made tea for the artists who illustrated advertisements for newspapers.After many happy years in advertising he eventually moved on to designing sets for Swedish Television’s London and European operations, particularly their sports coverage.He would design sets that were produced in London and then travel with them to set up in locations all over Europe.It was during this period that he and his wife Lizzie moved to Sussex. Neville had been painting in the county for many years but then decided that, as he was travelling all over Europe, he no longer had to be based in or near London.First they lived in a flat at Stopham House, Stopham. Then, tired of climbing the 28 steps to their home, they found their current base, not too far away and still near to Pulborough. That was about 15 years ago.“From when I was at Stopham, I just had to paint. What had just been a way of relaxing, became much, much more.”During one of his painting expeditions Neville realised that he tended to paint the Arun Valley while many of the passers-by who asked him what he was doing were walking the South Downs Way.This planted the idea that he should capture the whole length of the 100-mile long walk, which he has now done.“I was on the top of the hill at Bury. Bury Hill has always been my starting point and I’ve painted two dozen or more paintings from there. I was on the Way itself. I had a day when everybody wanted to stop me and talk. I thought everyone’s enjoying this great Way. What was inspiring these people to do this walk?“I wanted to have a look at the view right along the South Downs Way, and that is what I have done.”

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