KEITH PROCTOR

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It was over forty years ago now that I remember watching my father painting and drawing in his studio at home; just the same way in which my youngest son now watches me. This is when I decided that I wanted to be a painter. There was nothing else for me and for the last 25 years that’s exactly what I have done. I have painted everything in my time from animals to street scenes and have used everything from watercolours to pastels, but now my preferred medium is oil and my preferred subject matter is ‘the innocence of children’. It came about by sheer coincidence as it was whilst I was experimenting with people studies that I included my son ‘Jack’ into one of my piece’s called ‘Footsteps’. My intention was to show the bond between father and son and the closeness that they share. Boys, in particular, like to do what ‘Dad’ does; so to show the boy stepping in time with his father was a natural scene for me to paint. Once I had finished the painting I knew that there was more to come of this ‘little boy’.

For me the boy is ‘Jack’ - my own son who follows my every step; but the beauty of these paintings is that the boy can be anyone’s son; brother, grandson or nephew. He is innocent, he is natural and he is instinctive. He knows laughter, peace and tears; he knows love, hope and joy and he knows how to show it. Most of all he is spontaneous and does things without thinking first. Something that adults don’t naturally do as they get older due to experience and the boundaries that life sets us. The more we know the more we fear and struggle to ‘simply let go’ - something a child has no problems with.

This is what I try to capture in my paintings - a child in a moment of thought; in the moment of making a memory; memories that shape us and makes us who we are. It is those precious moments that maybe only last a few seconds; but stay with us forever, that inspire me the most. For me children are ‘beauty in motion’; free spirits without the weight of the world on their shoulders yet. They are truly natural and that’s what I always try to portray in my paintings - the simple innocence and freedom of childhood.