view orderRobert Brindley

Dalesman March 2000

Caution To The Wind On Yorkshire’s Coast

Rupert Green meets an artist with an eye for capturing Yorkshire’s magnificent coastline

Talent, hard work, patience and personal tragedy have all helped to shape the character and career of self taught professional artist Robert Brindley. From his garden room studio in Sleights on the edge of the beautiful Esk valley, a mile from the North York Moors, Robert’s paintings regularly travel to galleries in Malton, Burford and London.

Born in 1949, Robert Brindley’s artistic journey did not begin until he was 25 years old when his wife bought him an oil painting set. He had trained as a civil engineering technician, a job that involved meticulous technical drawings. Robert maintains he fought against being too detailed in his early paintings and says: “Paintings are an interpretation, not an exact copy, and I still have to consciously guard against it.” Obviously gifted, he exhibited and sold his paintings from galleries in his home town of Burton-upon-Trent. He left the local council to work for the National Coal Board and in the early 1980s won first prize in the NCB’s annual national painting competition with a painting called ‘A Blacksmith and his Smithy’.

He received a cheque for £90 and the picture was shown around the country. This success fuelled Robert’s desire to paint full time but, married with two children, he felt it was not a realistic option. Painting had now become a very serious hobby indeed, and he continued to sell his work through local galleries. His wide choice of subjects included landscapes featuring aircraft, mechanics working on aircraft, and his particular speciality, hot air balloons. This led him being elected to the Guild of Aviation Artists and gave him the opportunity tom show his work at big London venues such as The Connaught Rooms and to mix with known artists like David Shepherd and Frank Wooten.

The Red Bucket


He had now moved on to a higher level and diversified into acrylics and watercolours, but he still felt uneasy about turning professional. He changed jobs again, and in line with advancing technology, became a computer aided design manager in the East Midlands.

The tragic death of his wife through cancer in 1991 proved a watershed for Robert, “it brought about a completely new perception of life. My attitude completely changed. When you lose someone like that, you wonder why we are here; I threw caution to the wind”

Within a year, Robert moved to start a new life in the pretty village of Sandsend, near Whitby, and at last became a full time painter. At this time, Robert met Liz, his future wife. She strongly encouraged him to pursue his dream and together they started a Bed and Breakfast business at the large house in Sandsend. Robert introduced painting holidays, teaching enthusiastic amateur artists who stayed with them.

Although motivated by bereavement, moving to North Yorkshire was a seminal artistic decision. Robert discovered a flair for painting the stunning marine landscapes our rugged coastline provides in abundance.

High Aspect / Staithes

In 1993 Robert’s work was accepted and shown for the first time with the Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries in London, and in 1996 he became an associate member, being elected a full member the following year – a highly prestigious honour, as there are only 40 members of the society in the world. As a full member, he submits six paintings every year, all of which are hung.

He has also exhibited with the Royal Society of Oil Painters, again at the Mall Galleries, and is a former member of The Yorkshire Watercolour Society.

Over the last three years, Robert’s range has widened to include figurative work and interiors and now uses pastels, oils and watercolours.

Robert and Liz enjoy travel and love Venice and Goa in India, visiting both to sketch and paint. They take lots photographs, which Robert then uses as a basis for paintings back at home.

Although selling well locally, he sends the more unusual paintings to the Burford Gallery in Oxfordshire and the Polak Gallery in St. James’s London.

During May, Robert mounts a one-man annual exhibition in Whitby, showing 60 new works. Last year’s was highly successful, selling over 40 paintings.

But his principal Yorkshire gallery is Talents Fine Arts in Malton, where his work is permanently hung and is included in at least one exhibition a year.

Robert’s success means he and Liz no longer cater for B&B or painting breaks. They sold the Sandsend house and moved to their present home on Eskdaleside. Robert still enjoys teaching and holds weekend workshops for aspiring artists, painting in the morning and teaching during the afternoon. He also conducts demonstrations throughout the Midlands and Yorkshire, spending two hours painting a picture and often talking to an audience of 100 people. In addition, he teaches an evening class to smaller groups.

Robert adopts a hands-on approach to his teaching, in sharp contrast to his one brush with formal training. In the mid 70’s, he attended an adult education class for a year, but felt he was not deriving any benefit and the teacher soon agreed there was nothing he could teach him! The summer is kept free of commitments to concentrate on creative work.

What is the one magical factor Robert seeks to achieve in a painting? He says: “Light is the inspiration, the challenge is capturing its effect. The painting stands or falls by the quality of the light”

Robert has recently bought a computer that dovetails neatly with his background in technology. This enables him to scan in paintings and produce greetings cards or take digital photographs of his work. They can be downloaded onto the system and then transferred to a disc, which can go to the printers or galleries that use the same technology. The computer stores a record of all his paintings, even when sold. Liz has also discovered an artistic side; she paints designs on silk, influenced by art nouveau and stained glass window patterns.

Robert Brindley is a quiet, modest man who strives to improve with every new painting. In the future he hopes to obtain another Royal Society membership but his aim is simply to paint and to provide aesthetic pleasure for us all.


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