John Everitt

Having been a commercial illustrator and graphic designer for over thirty years I needed to get away from client briefs and explore what I wanted to say about the world by doing my own work just for me. 

I paint because I have to. For years I visited galleries and looked at books with a mounting sense of frustration. When I have been idle for some time I feel a sort of nagging itch that needs to be scratched. The process of starting a painting is usually very difficult for me especially if I am starting again after a long period of not creating.
 
I love words and love playing with words. Although my paintings are not puns or plays on words they will often deconstruct the image conjured up by a word or phrase.
 
I use strong, dark, slightly sinister colours that heighten the sense of mood and promote a dreamlike quality often at odds with the context of the picture.
 
I am interested playing with perspective and proportions that alter and distort the perception of the image and give the picture a playful quality. Even before I came to live by the coast I loved the sea and all the wonderful stories and legends that go with it. My images often contain maritime themes because I enjoy the challenge of painting the sea and its moods and because it is the most beautiful stage on which to play out the drama in the picture. Boats obviously figure hugely across my work, they give curvaceous beauty and make wonderful furniture for my cast of characters.The last ten years has taken the form of a long apprenticeship in which I have learned about painting, printmaking and exhibiting.
 
I like to play with form, perspective, language, reality and expectation by providing images that often appear to be unfinished or incomplete narratives that invite the viewer to make their own interpretation. I believe that my art should be an enjoyable experience for viewers of all ages at a number of levels from simple enjoyment to more detailed engagement. I like to paint mainly in acrylic with a level of detail that encourages closer examination and the joy of discovery.

My work is occasionally described as being surreal, magic realist or faux naïve. Though I admire the work of Chagall, Magritte, Michael Sowa and others, I do not wish to pigeonhole myself within a particular tradition, so I describe my work as “Unreal”, because for me it is a counterpoint to the all-too-real madness of the contemporary world. 

Having produced the cover and illustrations for a book of Portsmouth poetry (This Island City) and the cover for a book of adult fairy tales (Portsmouth Fairy Tales: http://www.lifeisamazing.co.uk). I have recently completed a book of short essays by Portsmouth writers which were written in response to some of my paintings

I currently co-organise a one day festival of art, music and literature in Portsmouth’s Square Tower and am always keen to involve other artists in this not for profit venture. Because of its location the event attracts passers-by who may not be the traditional public audience and exposes them to a variety of media.

Download this page as a PDF here