A true travel – artist, Morris Jensen is based in the UK and the UAE. He was just about to board his flight from Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) to the UK as he wrote this.
Read on to see Morris’s tips on travel/art gear, inspirations, and his favorite places to paint.
I live in Barton upon Humber, North Lincs. One of the nicer parts of North Lincolnshire, nestled between Scunthorpe and Grimsby and sat on the south bank of the Humber Bridge. The delights of Hull beckon from across the muddy waters of the estuary so that explains why I work abroad all the time.
WHERE I TRAVEL:
* Wadi Bih, the mountain pass linking Ras al Khaimah to the east coast. Now sadly closed by the Omani military.
* The desert around Dhaid, Al Hamra, deserted village between Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah
* Enjoyed painting the Pyramids
* Loved the greens of Thailand, the ice blues of Canadian lakes, the amazing red rocks on Mount Kenya
WHERE I PAINT:
I love to paint on site even in the heat of summer, find a tree or a shadowed rock side and set up like some Victorian explorer. How In envy David Roberts, how I hate flies. Emirati people are very kind. Whole families with kids would stop and offer me water, say hello, ask if I needed food. They would then peek around the easel to catch a glimpse of the work.
In my studio I’m happy to paint from both photos and sketches. While I was in the UAE I did a lot of camping and happily wandered around the wadis, mountains and deserts there in search of views to paint.
90% of the paintings on my site are places people went to during the cooler months, Eids and long weekends to relax. It was fun to have a buyer recognise the subject and described a campout or walking trip they had done in that area. Often I was given ideas of where to go and paint by people viewing my art at an exhibition.
I like to carry as much as possible, but when back packing I limit the gear to a small watercolour paint box, about 4-5 brushes and a small water container. I take a light 3 legged folding seat but no easel. I prefer a hard backed cartridge paper book, A4 size so I can keep a record of stuff like smells and first impressions in he margins next to the paintings.
If I was in my 4 x 4 I would take half my studio in a large tool box.
When travelling and having to fly I scale back down to back packing mode and where possible I like to buy local paper and paints. I take as much paper as allowed by weight and try to give lots of sketches away to people who I stay with and who offer me beer.
I used to be a photographer in the army and when I left in 1990 I went walkabout through Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey. Most of my ‘bulky’ camera gear got damaged and people were not too camera friendly but when I sat sketching people were interested and helpful. I started selling in 2000 when I came to Dubai and could afford to frame my work…I painted two pictures a day for about three weeks and spent a fortune on framing but had a great exhibition at the end.
My buyers are/were mainly other expats. I worked for the main government education system which has two collages, 1 male and 1 female, in each emirate and had so I had access, by intranet and word of mouth to several hundred Westerners.
Collectors find me by word of mouth. Once through a gallery after a lady wanted camels and the gallery owner knew I had just done some. A few people have contacted me after viewing my site on the Internet but I did get on TV in Dubai via my website. 90 million viewers through out the Middle East and Africa but no sales.
At first, Ray Campbell Smith. He was the first artist whose books I liked and style I copied. After a while I moved away from his style as I became more interested in painting mountains and wilderness scenery.
David Bellamy: Changed my painting life and painting style completely, I learnt to paint rocks and mountains. I rate him as one of Britain?s top watercolourists.
Bob Wade: An Australian artist who travels and writes for International Artist magazine, from him I discovered the fun in painting figures.
Abdul Qader Al-Rais: A wonderful Emirati artist whose work can be seen on the walls of Dubai’s Airport at Sheikh Rashid Terminal. The man has vision, wonderful colours.
TIPS for TRAVELLING ARTISTS:
* Try to find another artist/s to go travelling with.
* Use the Internet to find other artists’ work and contact them.
* Stop and paint/sketch, don’t just take photos.
Painting – the best way to record your travels, meet people and has helped me to see things I am sure I would have missed as a normal tourist.
See more of Morris Jensen’s work at his website.