The Gallery - Emerson Mayes, a landscape and wildlife artist from Nidderdale

Emerson Mayes at work

Emerson Mayes at work - Credit: Archant

The work of accomplished landscape and now wildlife artist Emerson Mayes features in our Gallery this month

Emerson Mayes has built a reputation as a landscape painter of some stature since winning Young Artist of the Year in 1995. He almost always paints close to home, and his work is sensitive to his surroundings - ancient buildings, ancient trees and ancient waterways inhabit his canvases. He has exhibited around the country and is widely collected - most recently three of his paintings were purchased for the House of Lords collection.

He is an established, well respected, award-winning Yorkshire landscape painter in mid-career but his work has taken an interesting departure in the last few years. ‘I was painting landscapes with my eyes shut,’ says Mayes. ‘I paint in such a small corner of Yorkshire that I know my subject matter implicitly.’ And while his paintings were still selling like hotcakes he no longer felt challenged. ‘I decided to stop painting for a year and see what happened,’ says the 42-year-old artist who is based in Nidderdale. He returned to his roots as a draughtsman and to printmaking, for which he has always had a strong talent.

‘Painting was something I was eased into by galleries, who can command greater prices for paintings rather than drawings or prints, and who can argue against sales of paintings,’ he says. ‘I’ve always classed myself as a draughtsman and I believed that going through the printmaking process gave my drawings validity.’

What he hadn’t reckoned on was a change in subject matter. All of a sudden his eye turned from the landscape to the creatures that inhabit it.

He was drawing foxes, stag and finches, observing movement and behaviour and capturing these in finely honed, highly skilled drawings and print works.

The risk has paid off. Emerson Mayes’ career has set off in a new and exciting direction and his print works are selling as well as his paintings. ‘I have come back to painting now but in a method more akin to drawing,’ he says.

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He is excited about his work with the charity New Lights Art Award, which organises a biennial exhibition and award for young artists from the North of England. He’s also trying to decide on one of two projects - study an acre of land that is visible from his house or make a journey between two Yorkshire landmarks such as Fountains Abbey or Rievaulx Abbey.

Whatever his decision, it’s clear that this Yorkshire artist won’t be standing still.