David Lester’s modern style of painting appeals to a young audience as well as an established following. His paintings are held in collections across Europe.
How did your interest in art develop?
I have always enjoyed art. Sadly, I was denied the opportunity to study the subject at school, which probably made me even more determined to draw and paint in my spare time. After I left college I began teaching in a primary school in the West Midlands, U.K., where art was a favourite activity with the children. My first school was in an ethnically diverse area and art was one sure way of building the children’s confidence.
For some years, I tackled life-drawing, still-life and landscape painting, went on occasional courses, and eventually met some significant people who changed my approach to painting and ways of thinking. These included Roy Ray and artists at the St Ives School of Painting, John Blockley who helped me adopt a more creative approach to watercolour painting, and most importantly, Issam Kourbaj. He taught at Cambridge University and established a group of innovative artists where we were encouraged to express ourselves, take our inspiration from different sources, and tackle a wide range of themes.
Tell us about your paintings.
Often my paintings are based on experiences of the island’s stunning mountain scenery, dramatic coastline and its clear intense light. I prefer the challenge of abstract painting, where there is more opportunity to express feelings and develop ideas. There is more scope for interpretation and imagination. I am especially interested in colour, composition, rhythm and unusual perspectives. Usually I paint in oils which offer greater opportunity for using vibrant colours, rich tones and glazes.
Art has been a means of meeting other artists like Miriam McConnon whose inspiration and encouragement helped me develop work in oils. Paphos has a growing community of similar minded artists who are prepared to share their ideas.
Where have you exhibited?
I first exhibited at Bedford Art Gallery. In Cambridge Open Studios I exhibited at Newnham College, Langham Gallery and Round Church Studios. Since coming to Cyprus I have held two solo exhibitions at ‘Kyklos’ Gallery and group exhibitions at ‘tekniarts’, and ‘En Plo’ in Paphos. Last year I established a permanent exhibition at my working studio and have regularly participated in Paphos Open Studios.
What do you feel about the large number of retirees and ex-pats who have taken up painting?
It’s great that so many people take up a genuine pursuit like art in retirement. People have more time at the end of busy working lives to find new ways of expressing themselves. They also have a lifetime’s experience, ideas and feelings to bring to the subject. Art is for everyone. It shouldn’t be exclusive or for the privileged few. There are some excellent teachers to advise on materials and techniques, and many people to offer inspiration and encouragement.
You recently published ‘Wishful Thinking’. What is it about?
It’s a humorous account of how we reached the tough decision to leave the U.K. and emigrate to Cyprus. My wife Cathy enjoyed living on the island as an infant and teenager and this influenced our decision. After holidaying here we took the opportunity to move while we had the health and energy to follow our interests of writing and painting. So far there has been a great response to ‘Wishful Thinking’ and many have confirmed similar feelings about wondering whether to ‘live the dream’.
What are your next projects?
On Saturday 29th August I will be holding an exhibition at the ‘Art Café’ in Polis for two weeks. I have been invited to give an illustrated talk, there, on ‘Wishful Thinking’ published earlier this year.
In October I will be taking part in Open Studios again, and later in the month I’ll be holding workshops on ‘Approaches to Abstract Painting’ at my studio. This is a new venture for me. The idea behind the course is to encourage others to develop ideas about painting and launch into abstract painting, or at least find fresh ways of extending their own ideas.
If anyone is interested in talking about painting or ‘Wishful Thinking’, they will be most welcome to visit my studio.
For more information or visits to the studio contact David Lester, Tel: 26 621130
‘Wishful Thinking’ is available from the author, local bookshops, or the publisher at www.power-books.net, price 15 euros or £10 inc. post and packing to the U.K.
Interview by Natalie Hadjiadamos