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Peter Appleton wins the OCA prize for painting

This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.
Peter Appleton has just completed a degree with the OCA. His final body of work was so outstanding he has been awarded this year’s Richard Robbins prize at OCA. His award has helped him mount an exhibition in Liverpool. Peter’s work is focussed on his love of Merseyside. Born in St. Helens he came to art after a 30 year career in urban design and housing and he has worked hard to bring emotion and a strong sense of place to his work.
Take a look at this video about his working method: it really helps understand how he has been able to capture the energy of his sketchbook work in the work that became ‘final’. The video is really helpful in showing how the distinction between these two processes can be helpfully blurred.

If you can make it to the exhibition it is at the View Two Gallery 23 Mathew Street Liverpool L2 6RE from Thursday 7 November and on 8th 9th and 14th 15th 16th November 2013. The gallery is open on Thursdays and Fridays 12:00 till 4:00pm and Saturdays 12:00 till 5:00pm.
Peter’s website

Posted by author: Jane Parry
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30 thoughts on “Peter Appleton wins the OCA prize for painting

    • Thanks Maria – working hard in my new studio in Liverpool with other artists and finding I am continuing to develop especially having joined the Liverpool Critique Group and get feedback on my latest works from my peers.

  • Very interesting. There appears to be a lot of crossover with photography as sometimes its the first image in a series taken just as I arrive that captures something other, more deliberate images miss.

    • I think that is so right Pete – and much of my work was (and still is) done out doors so like photography there is an immediacy with the subject; with speed and expression the key for me. I found that I tended to introduce more ‘control’ and less life and energy if I stuck to the pattern of several preparatory sketches followed by the ‘finished’ work, and I settled for returning time and time again to the same spots to keep exploring the locality painting it over and over again.

  • Exciting work. The big sketchbook is a great idea. I often mention it to students who have been having difficultly scaling up small sketches for finished work. It is interesting to see how they have become, in this case, the end products themselves. Were they all done on the spot or not? It would be interesting to know where and how the editing process took place.

    • Hi Olivia in broad terms the process was completed on site at various fav industrial locations. I had specific themes in mind, a storeroom of ideas and techniques in my mind, built up over the months before, a developed palette, and then went out picking up bits of detrius off the floor sticking them into the canvas and painting into them. The process was repeated over and over working the subject to exhaustion and this built up a great mass of work from which I could select final assessment work(s). Some editing took place back in the studio – the weather was not always kind but I developed a degree of speed out on site which is a big help. Today as I am working in Liverpool the urban/industrial themes continue, but ships have started to appear – I walk past them often in the way to the studio and in the late summer I had the chance to sit down by the river and work on a few paintings. In addition I have discovered Tranmere Oil Terminal where the big boats dock – on a grey autumn day it is like heaven and I can get the car close enough to paint from the tailgate and get some protection – but need to work the painting up in the studio as well. Hope this helps Peter

  • Well done Peter!
    All the best with your exhibition and work onwards.
    It is so encouraging to read about students finishing the degree, and to see the work produced is wonderful. Congrats on the degree…
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks Dewald – it was only July assessments but things have moved on at a pace. The best thing I did was to join the artist collective and thereby avoided falling off a cultural cliff at the end of the degree and it has pressed me into continued artistic development. All the best with your own studies. Peter.

    • Thanks Peter… very interesting you mention an artist collective… something I’ve tried once, but I think the (expat / English speaking) community here is too small… but something I for sure would be keeping in mind.. thanks for mentioning that!

  • Exciting work, Peter.. many congratulations on your achievements. Very interested in the decision to step away from the preparatory studies/finished pieces way of working. What happened to the pieces on the other sides of the pages you chose to present as ‘finished’?

    • It was a deliberate choice to work in this way so I had to work on the assumption that any one of the paintings might be selected eventually so I just painted on one side. It might seem a bit wasteful but despite the fact I used a very heavy paper I was often rough with my brushstrokes and came close to going through the pages at times – the reverse side was often not useable. This also allowed me to take everything out of the sketchbook and spread them all out on the floor at selection time – it is helpful to see the whole body of work in one go. It certainly did not make for pretty sketchbooks things not selected I simply stuffed back between the covers and tied them with a ribbon – but these are serious working documents which I used out on site so they came in for some rough treatment and got a bit battered by the elements but I think this adds to them and demonstrates that my concern is the process and the art/subject and not tthe look of the sketchbook they are after all merely a record and a means to an end.
      Best Regards

      • I had wondered whether you’d worked on single sides – makes absolute sense that you would have done. Thanks for the reply, Peter – and well done, once again.

  • This was a really lovely portfolio to assess, inspirational.I wish you luck in your future endeavours. You should definitely apply for the threadneedle and the John Moores I would say ( I know what people have said about massive opens but maybe try it and see)

    • Now there is a thought ! The sort of debate I have been having with myself has been along the lines of commercial v artistic freedom, making a name via prizes etc v just getting on with it and meeting the needs emerging from inside me. I guess it was ever thus – some commercial generates the cash to do the things you want and if you can develop 2 side to your persona it helps. I suspect the debate will rage on – the artists I have been meeting and talking to in Liverpool all express the same feelings – internal conflicts and balance in their work. I will give art prizes a go – nothing ventured nothing gained it is just a matter of courage and confidence and your comments really help. Peter

  • Congratulations Peter I think your work is wonderful evoking such a feeling of place – inspirational Do you have any advice on working in such a way in situ ie what medium to you find most expressive yet portable?
    Kind regards

    • Hi Sarah – the elements can be a beast but I use several appoaches – a housebrick in the rucksack hanging from the easel keeps it stable – on bad days I hold the sketch book it has stiff covers which make it easy – I will use the tailgate of the car if I can get it close enough – I tend to pick up bits of detritus from the floor and stick it in so often have to wait while that dries in the car but by then the basic shapes are in place – I don’t worry about details and this helps me to be speedy in my painting which has the bonus of being expressive as well – having the collage shapes already in place helps me to paint quickly – I tend to use gouache out on site as they dry quickly and can be used like watercolour or like acrylic and I developed a limited palette over the year and this is very helpful as I did not have to think too much about colours the decision was made for me – I also used teabags from my flask to stain the paper to give an undertone to the painting before painting onto it – don’t be worried about people having a look or making comment most are positive and encouraging and if it is in Liverpool usually witty – ‘draw uz a cheque pal’ is the usual one. Yes it is difficult but the payback in terms of immediacy with the subject and the understanding and connection I developed with the landscape more than made up – lets face it we all have to suffer for our art !!!!!!

  • Hello Peter
    I would like to congratulate you on your fantastic achievement,
    I was interested in your ”New studio in Liverpool with other artists , also the Liverpool Critique Group, I live in Liverpool and would really love to meet other artists and would like to know more about any group that might help me with my studies, I am on Painting 1.
    I would appreciate any information you can give Peter.

    • Hi Linda,
      Have a look on my facebook and you will find the details there – Collette one of the artists at the collective is involved in running it and you will see her as a friend and that might be the best approach.

  • I’d like to add my congratulations for your achievement.
    It has been interesting to read your comments here. I’m just at the beginning of P3-YOP and considering ideas for my major project. I have a landscape in mind. Really inspired by your approach. Good luck with your new work.

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