A profile of artist John Smout from Ruabon, Wrexham, who came first at the North Wales Art Open 2009.
Early Evening Light by John Smout
Where are you from originally, and where are you now?
I'm originally from the West Midlands but have lived in this immediate area since 1967. I have lived in Pen-y-Gardden for 31 years.
How did you get started as an artist?
I trained at Stourbridge and Liverpool Schools of Art. I taught art at Ysgol Rhiwabon, Yale College Wrexham and Coleg Harlech. I have been an elected member of the Royal Cambrian Academy since 1975.
What medium/media do you work in?
I work in both oil and watercolour and most of these are preceded by drawings.
What are your influences and inspirations? Do you draw inspiration from your local area?
The landscape of the area has had an obvious influence on my work. I like to emphasise structure and order in the visual world, whether landscape, architecture or figurative. The real and the abstract constantly intermingle. Colour is an important and active force. Some of my work has employed letterforms and shapes as an integral part of the whole image. I have completed an altarpiece for the Translator's Chapel in St Asaph Cathedral.
Architecture is a recurring theme and in the 1980s, I recorded more than 70 of the many chapels in the Rhosllanerchrugog, Johnstown, Ruabon, Penycae, Acrefair, Trevor and Llangollen areas. These were exhibited in Bersham and the National Library of Wales.
Where has your work been shown?
I have had many one-man exhibitions including those at Wrexham Art Centre, Theatr Clwyd, the Royal Cambrian Academy, The National Library of Wales, St David's Hall Cardiff, Ludlow, Bath and the Royal Exchange Manchester, and numerous joint shows.
What are your views on the current scene nationally and locally?
I'm encouraged that Welsh art is becoming more confident and outward-looking rather than some of the introspection of the past.