About Peter Stallard
Second place winner of Fine Art Realism category
Peter Stallard was born in Cheltenham, England in 1950.
He moved to London and lived there for 12 years before moving to the United States where he now lives in a Colorado ski town.
During his time in London, he worked in an exclusive Fine Art Gallery that sold Old Master Dutch and Flemish paintings, Surrealist and French Impressionist paintings which was a great source of inspiration for the years that followed when he became a self taught illustrator, painter, graphic designer, muralist and photo retoucher.
During his time in London Peter worked as an illustrator with a London representative mainly producing airbrush illustrations for large advertising agencies. The work was very varied and covered numerous subjects.
After he moved to the US he continued to produce illustrations for advertising with reps in New York, San Fransisco, Dallas and Denver.
Eventually after the demands of advertising changed from conventional art to digital art Peter added digital art to his resume producing Photoshop renderings for builders, developers and architects.
Peter also takes time to produce his own personal artwork as well as commissioned wildlife paintings, people and assorted animal portraits.
Peter’s favorite medium is gouache for illustrations but acrylic paint is also used in many of his paintings and murals. He also uses many different airbrushes to achieve certain effects that only an airbrush can produce frequently combining airbrush techniques with conventional paint brush techniques and even color pencils are sometimes added for certain textures.
Realism has always been Peter's favorite genre.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what is your background? When did you start airbrushing and what was the learning process like for you?
I was born in the UK. I am a self taught painter, illustrator, graphic designer, muralist, photo retoucher, and digital architectural renderer. I started drawing and painting when I was at junior school and have been actively involved in many forms of visual art ever since.
The learning process for airbrushing was extremely difficult when I first stated. I was working at an Art and Antique publication in London doing graphics work when my boss asked me if I knew how to use an airbrush. I didn't even know what an airbrush was at that time.
Apparently my predecessor frequently retouched black and white images of antique furniture for publication. They were simple really, all that was needed was a cleaned up background and the removal of distracting details.
I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be especially as I had no-one there to teach me or give me any guidance. I was very much on my own right from the beginning. I ended up spending many evenings after work trying to learn the techniques necessary to retouch all the black and white photos that were now piling up.
"I made mistake after mistake and half the time my airbrush would splatter suddenly and I would get blobs of paint going every where except where I wanted them to go."
I would ruin the artwork every time and had to repeatedly start over. Eventually I got the hang of it and thenceforth I was busy retouching those pictures. It was challenging at times but I enjoyed the process even if it was not that creative.
After working at a Graphics design company and moving on to work with a partner in my own photographic retouching company I quit one day and found an artists rep in order to become a professional illustrator working on highly detailed illustrations for advertising purposes. That was always my intent and I was an illustrator with that London rep for many years until I moved to the US and continued to work as an airbrush illustrator with many other reps in various other States for many year afterwards.
2. Can you tell us a bit more about your winning entry piece? How / why did you choose it? How long did it take, and what inspired you?
I had a series of photos taken on vacation in Cape Town South Africa. The artwork was based on the photo I took of a friend who was a ballet dancer climbing out of a pool. I was fascinated by the water sunlit droplets and streams of water running down her back. When I returned to London I decided to assemble a few different photos into a complete picture and illustrate that scene in order to fine tune some of my airbrush techniques. I was focussed mainly on water elements which I had never attempted before.
It took weeks between my regular work to finally get it finished. It is one of my favorite airbrush pieces.
3. What does airbrushing mean to you and what drives your passion for airbrushing and creating art? Also, how do you find the ideas for your other works?
I have always creating artwork and paintings both conventionally with a normal paint brush and different mediums but there are certain instances when only an airbrush gives me the result I am looking for. It works best with smooth surfaces like human skin and mechanical objects like planes, boats and various vehicles like cars and trucks.
These days I am mostly commissioned to produce artwork and that can be very varied. I particularly enjoy projects I have never attempted before which helps to keep things fresh and challenging. Between those times I'll play around with any idea that comes to mind.
" ...there are certain instances when only an airbrush gives me the result I am looking for..."
4. What are your goals / targets for airbrushing? What do you want to achieve?
The goal is to always to produce artwork I am happy with whatever the medium and whatever the method. The target is always to try and do a better quality job than I have done previously.
"Using an airbrush is always a unique and satisfying creative exercise but in some respects it is also more challenging..."
Using an airbrush is always a unique and satisfying creative exercise but in some respects it is also more challenging than other looser applications because it requires so much concentration and control. Making mistakes can be very unforgiving unless one knows exactly how to correct them and I always breathe a sigh of relief when I am finally finished with an airbrushed piece of art. Sometimes it is still a nerve wracking experience especially if I am working on a very complex piece of art.
5. Do you specialize or prefer to work on a specific surface?
I used Frisk CS 10 board for many many years until it was no longer produced. It was the best board I ever used for airbrushing illustrations and I really miss it. It had a very resilient surface that never fell apart especially when dealing with corrections. The surface always remained remained smooth, clean and workable no matter no matter how much abuse was thrown at it. Now I mostly use the best quality gessoed board which is far more expensive than CS 10 board ever was but worth the price.
6. How would you describe your style(s) in airbrushing?
I have always liked detail in my work so I prefer to produce realism into my art. The more I “look at” in my daily life the more “I see” and the more I see the more I want to reproduce in my art.
"It is the subtle visual details in life that have always intrigued me..."
It is the subtle visual details in life that have always intrigued me and they are often not what a viewer expects to see but what they don't expect to see that counts.
7. Any advice to beginners looking to start airbrushing?
Enjoy the entire process and even the mistakes you make as much as the art you create because it is only when you know how to confidently fix mistakes, and they almost always happen at least once in a project, that you can relax and get more enjoyment from your airbrushing experience. It is interesting point that when you know how to fix your mistakes you'll probably make fewer and fewer of them or even none at all.
But...making mistakes is all part of the learning process so don't get too frustrated and just keep practicing over and over until you feel increasing confidence taking over. It is well worth the effort and the time to reach such a place.
"Enjoy the entire process and even the mistakes you make."
8. Do you have a website or blog? How can people reach you on social media?
In the past I had quite a few very elaborate and very visual websites which I spent weeks creating but my wife accidentally deleted them when she changed the hosting company we shared for her business and I didn't discover it until all traces of them were gone from their servers. I just don't have the fortitude to remake them, it interferes with my time airbrushing too much.
Strangely, but possibly predictably, I just don't get along with social media, my wife usually handles it and she is somewhat addicted to it as most people are these days. I derive great enjoyment from one on one communication or long e-mails which I enjoy writing but very rarely get in return. People seem to have lost the art of communication I think or maybe they are always in a hurry.
I tried Facebook once but they didn't approve of my smiling gum chewing chimpanzee avatar, They sent me warnings about its appropriateness which I ignored so they disabled my site and I decided that I didn't need them either:)
I use a cell phone intermittently and only when I have to but I don't like the extent is disrupts life and I almost never use text messaging. I am far too long winded for that kind of minimal exercise.It debases the language too much in my opinion. If they need to people mostly contact me on my studio landline. Needless to say I don't get many calls :)
I don't want to sound out of touch with the real world but I suppose if one lives one's life as an artist of any kind one already is.