The Magpie Anthology

Life: As Seen by Trev

Inspired by a trip to Bath, we spoke to local Bristol and Bath artist Trevor Dalton to find out what inspires his sketches of the local area and how his quick drawing become works of art. The Magpie Anthology asked Trevor how he produces his sketches and if he has any advice for young people starting out in animation or drawing.

Having trained and then worked as a computer character animator, mainly working on children’s TV series in London and Bristol, Trevor is now out and about with his sketchbook and is inspired to draw and paint by the daily observations that he of people and places.

Are you a constant or a casual observer of people?

I continuously notice characters when I’m out and about. I’ve even reached for my sketch pad and started sketching away whilst shopping at the supermarket! I suppose I have a constant fascination in humankind – my own ‘figures in a townscape or landscape’.

Do you do quick sketches in situ and then work them up into drawings?

Great question, I do quick sketches in situ, normally up to a couple of minutes per sketch but it’s not a race. It just happens that way. I travel light, taking an A5 sketchbook plus a few 2B pencils with me plus a sharpener. I never carry an eraser when I’m outside as it would encourage me to start changing my drawings and that would distract my focus from creating a spontaneous response to my subject. My drawings have developed an economy of line over the years as this loose style has evolved. Nowadays my empathy for people often shows up in the finished sketch, capturing a life story is very satisfying.

I don’t normally work the quick sketches up into fully cleaned up drawings. I do however want to make use of my collection of so many sketches, I am now also practicing a loose style in oils and the sketchpads make ideal reference for works on canvas. It’s just a matter of time now before I master this technique, but I am having fun learning and I will keep you posted when I get there!

Who are your favourite artists?

I am inspired by many artists both past and present, but my top three are currently, Honore Daumier, Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec and LS Lowry. Honore Daumier was a superb draftsman and he had a keen eye for capturing the humour in a scene. Henry de Toulouse-Lautrec had an outstanding ability to seize the drama and theatre of Paris night life at the end of the nineteenth century. Lowry is a totally different artist. He is inspirational for developing his own style of simple yet characterful studies of urban life in Lancashire.  

Who do you admire?

Several years ago, I approached local artist Stephen Clifton and asked if he could teach me a few oil painting techniques. Whilst at his studio, Stephen who has a background in technical illustration looked at a collection of my old life drawings and then my sketchbooks, he explained that I had a natural gift for capturing a whole back story in a simple sketch.

That was the inspiration I needed to realise that my quick observations on paper could give people pleasure. Stephen’s attitude towards enjoying a creative life is infectious, we often meet up and look around the art galleries in Bath and further afield. But the thing that most inspires me about Stephen Clifton is the fact although he suffers from MS and his body is letting him down. He maintains such a positive zest for life.

Do you have any advice for someone starting out in art or animation? 

If you want study for a career as an artist or animator there are so many different career paths to follow that I can only give advice in general terms. Have fun building your portfolio. Take up life drawing. Be prepared to study, analyse and experiment continuously. Meet up with other artists. Find good mentors. Make mistakes, it’s all part of growing. But most of all enjoy yourself and remember to keep a sketch book close by.

Sketching in the Royal Crescent

You can see Trevor’s drawings on his website:

Interview: Amber Beard


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