MONKMAN, Percy: ‘My Art’

The prolific Bradford artist, Percy Monkman, was an entertaining speaker at various social gatherings. His observations about art were often mixed with humorous stories of encounters with others. Talented as an entertainer, as well as an artist, Percy could hold the attention of a group and respond to their needs.  But it was clear from his writing that he was passionate about painting – and about the city of his birth:

The value of painting comes from heightened observation, seeing subjects everywhere – beauty in Bradford, a wet day in Leeds. The artist always searches for beauty and often in the most unlikely of places … Many people have said disparaging things about Bradford – its grim buildings, its sooty atmosphere, its lack of colour and many other things.

Personally, after a lifetime of observing and looking for colour and pattern, each year I find it more and more fascinating from a painting point of view … One service that the artist can give to the community is to help them see with a new eye the more pleasant aspects of their own environment, or, if not that, an exciting new vision of what might be a very ordinary, everyday scene.

Railway Sidings, Bradford. Image: In Private Collection

On painting landscapes in winter, Percy wrote

I used to think the winter months were hopeless for painting, until a famous artist living in the Dales, Reg Brundrit, said that he thought the winter time was the best time to paint. There was more colour to excite one. The summertime greens of the fields were much easier to be seen – with more colour to stimulate me, of course. Green is in my opinion the most difficult of all colours. Now I’ve come to the conclusion that what most people would find to be impossible – rain, mist and snow were far more stimulating than the traditional summer scenes.

Moor Landscape. Image: in a private collection

Source:  Ch.4. pp.57-8. Greenwood, M. (2018) Percy Monkman. An Extraordinary Bradfordian.  PlashMill Press. ISBN 9780957261297.

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