Stephen Gayford is among the foremost wildlife artists in the UK, and his art is appreciated by numerous international collectors. As a professional artist, Stephen paints from a depth of knowledge and passion, and each work is inspired and informed by countless hours of personal observation and research.
By combining intricate detail, dramatic lighting, and anatomical accuracy, he has become widely known for his “up close and personal” compositions. The incredible wildlife and habitat from Africa, India and The United States have been Stephen’s passion and inspiration for the past three decades. He says, “The excitement lies in transferring situations I have witnessed on Safari onto the canvas.’’ He travels frequently to research his subjects in their natural habitat, believing that there is no substitute for personal experience in the field. More often, he’d rather be outdoors in the thick of the experience than indoors painting it.
He says, ‘’Painting, for me, has never been a hobby. It is not relaxing – professional writers and athletes would probably say the same. Since I was twelve, I have always painted unless I am interrupted. It is a labour, a labour of love. I dislike front light, ie. the sun behind the observer, and always choose back light or side light, or diffused light as in a cloudy, or dusty day. I love dust and mist because it describes the volume of air between the objects’’
‘’I start with little sketches in pencil about the size of playing cards. I may do one, two or twelve until I get the right composition. When painting, I have a large mirror behind me and I sometimes get up and walk back to the mirror to view the painting in reverse. If something in the painting is troubling me, I can see it in the reflection. I find that if the painting is going well, it looks better in the mirror; if it has problems, they become readily apparent’’.
‘’People often ask how long it takes me to do a painting. The answer is, I don’t know. I work on between two and ten at once. I like them when I first start them as they have a simplicity, and the more I work on them, the further away from the original inspiration they become, so I start a new one to cheer me up. By the time the fifth one looks really awful to me, the first one doesn’t look quite as bad, and a new idea about it may have come along so I go back to work on it for a while. One painting took me about four years on and off’’!