Artist Interview :: John Dyer and Joanne Short
17 August 2017
For an insider's guide to the Fal River’s best bits, who better to ask than local artists John Dyer and Joanne Short, who have spent the last 25 years travelling around the area and painting it’s scenery.
How did you both become artists?
We both grew up on the north coast of Cornwall. I was always inspired to be involved in the arts as my father, Ted Dyer, is a very successful artist. My focus was on attending art school in Falmouth to discover which area of the arts I was tempted by. Joanne didn’t come from an artist family but we grew up together and attended the same schools so I encouraged her to develop her creativity and ultimately to also apply to art school. I then went on to study an art degree in London and Joanne did her art degree in Italy.
Tell us a bit about your creative process…
The creative process is totally linked to mood, passion and inspiration. We love the coast of Cornwall and react directly to the landscape with our paints. I will start by imagining the broad elements of the painting and then begin squeezing paint onto the canvas. Joanne will do a quick drawing first and then will start with painting the foreground elements such as flowers and lastly the sky, whereas my paintings are sky first and flowers last! So after half an hour my canvas is covered in colour and shapes but Joanne’s will still mainly white!
What do you love most about the Fal River area?
The activity on the water and the wonderful colours around the coast are irresistible to a painter. The sub-tropical plants that thrive in the area are also really inspiring and the combination of both makes for brilliant colours and shapes to work with. The Roseland is a very special place and always feels like we have arrived on holiday once we drive of the King Harry Ferry. The variety of landscapes from St Just church to Carne Beach are fantastic.
Where is your favourite place to paint?
We live and work from our studio near Castle Beach in Falmouth, so the seafront in Falmouth is one of my favourite subjects as I can’t help being inspired every time I walk our sausage dog, Digory, along the front. St Mawes is also a firm favourite with both of us. The beautiful buildings combined with wild flowers, the harbor and beaches is just perfect.
Where do you consider the best view of Cornwall?
As you drive down into St Ives the view across the harbour is spectacular! Also the view of St Michael’s Mount from Marazion is amazing.
Do you have a favourite beach?
Yes lots of them! If I were allowed to choose two of them I would have Holywell Bay and Castle Beach. Holywell is where I spent 15 years of my life growing up and I just adore the dunes and the wild landscape. It’s great for surf too. Joanne grew up at Crantock so she is also really fond of the big north coast beaches but as a family we spend more time at Castle beach in Falmouth and just love the Mediterranean feel and colours.
Where is the best place for a family day out?
I think Falmouth offers a family so much. A great shopping town, a brilliant harbour with great ferry links, wonderful art galleries such as our gallery and the Falmouth Art Gallery and of course the wonderful beaches of Castle beach and Gyllyngvase beach. It would be easy to spend a day or so exploring Falmouth. Fab food, art, landscape and fun - what more could you want?
Where do you holiday?
We love Provence but very often we don’t take a holiday as we are always on holiday at home in Cornwall! When the sun is out we would rather be in Cornwall than anywhere else - it is a world-class destination that offers so much and such a huge variety of landscape within such a small area. Where else can you find the creeks and tranquility of the Far River area and only 30 mins away the crashing surf and rugged cliffs of the north coast?
Where is your favourite place to exhibit?
We both enjoy meeting collectors privately and hearing how they connect to our paintings. It is so wonderful to experience the delight and energy that our paintings so obviously give to people and you only get this by meeting your collectors. So our favourite place to exhibit is with our own John Dyer Gallery, which is online, and by private appointment in Falmouth. We believe it is the best online gallery in Cornwall and we offer the best experience to art collectors and the very best customer service too.
Who is your favourite artist of all time?
If I can only select one then that has to be Vincent van Gogh. His passion, dynamic painting style, honesty and use of paint and colour are the very best the world has ever seen. It would be great to be allowed to add a couple of Cornish artists too and those would be Bryan Pearce & Alfred Wallis.
If you had an unlimited budget, what painting would you like to call your own?
Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, painted from his asylum window at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, would be an astonishing painting to own for so many reasons. Interestingly many primary schools select this painting for the children to study for an historical artist and they then select my work for a contemporary artist, so I often see my work and Vincent’s hung together in schools when I am asked to visit to give a talk.
What would your one piece of advise for aspiring artists be?
Get a job. If you don’t have a job that can pay the bills you will probably fail - or water down your art so badly that you will get sad and give up. I trained in design so that I could earn a living while developing my paintings. Both Joanne and myself also taught degree students at Falmouth school of Art for a decade. This allowed us to paint from the heart and not to try and fit our work into a market which would be a disaster. Over 25 years of painting people slowly accepted and loved our paintings and the rest is history.
The pop up exhibition will be on display onboard the King Harry Ferry until the end of September.
The full collection of John Dyer and Joanne Short's paintings, ceramics and prints can be viewed online at www.johndyergallery.com and by appointment at the John Dyer Gallery, Falmouth.