Bio

Stuart Fraser is a Cumbrian based landscape painter, working predominantly in his first love "Oils" but also with mixed media when appropriate. Stuart is always looking for those “special” moments in nature where a bit of magic can happen.

"I love to be out and about looking for that next great painting, no matter whether it is the Lakeland mountains, the lonely and desolate Solway salt marshes or indeed further afield, my approach is always the same Find the Light"

I am constantly striving to improve my technique, Largely self taught, I decided in 2019 to get myself on a more professional footing , I started a period of study with the Norfolk Painting School intially in person and continued this remotely with new masterclasses constantly keeping my interest. This has been very illuminating, showing me just how little I really knew about art. I feel my work has improved greatly, loosening up, with a progressive drift towards post impressionism and even abstraction in my work .
Born and raised in the City of Carlisle, but based in the beautiful Eden Valley for the last 40 years with his wife Janet, Stuart still paints under his childhood nickname of Fraz, more on that below!.

Background

I have always had a love of drawing and painting, it was one of the few subjects at school I was actually pretty good at. In the working class environment where I grew up in the fifties and sixties the idea of becoming an artist was a little like wanting to be an astronaut, "not a proper job, Young Man" resulting in my plans to go to Art College unfullfilled. However, It still did not stop me "day dreaming" of one day becoming a political cartoonist like my hero the great man Giles .
Giles was my first window into the world of mark making, I came upon him as a young man while awaiting a haircut, a doctor or a dentist, his books and annuals seemed to be a regular feature in every waiting room in my day. They certainly made an unpleasant experience bearable and I was always sad if my turn came around too quickly.

Careers

Despite it all, I have been fortunate to spend the last 30 + years working in graphics, web development and print based design. Interestingly, my love of painting was ever present but unfulfilled due to work and family commitments. Ironically, losing my job in the 2008 financial crash, although painful actually allowed me time to take up the brush and I have never laid it down since.

How I paint

Like most artists, I work from photographs and sketches but only for initial reference, depending thereafter on my own expression and feelings for the motif, always trying to draw the viewer into my work, In fact, recently a customer who was visiting my home studio commented "he felt as though he was being sucked into the painting".That is the nicest comment I have ever recieved.

I rarely paint exactly what I see unless I am blessed with the light I crave. Painting for me is all about that moment in time, with an emphasis on strong contrasts between light and dark. This obsession for strong contrasts stems from my numerous train journeys as a youngster to my grandparents in the majestic Scottish highlands, those wondrous journeys left me with a fascination for light and its interaction with the landscape it kisses. .

Studio
Stuart outside his studio

What inspires my paintings?

Growing up in the middle of Cumbria and the Scottish Borders it is hard not to be Inspired

Memories

I have always been fascinated by light and shadow, some of my earliest memories were the ever popular Sunday morning family drives into the countryside, this was in the days before petrol became too expensive for such family ventures. The mountains and lakes of Cumbria's Lake District was like an exotic other world compared to the council housing estate where I grew up. And despite now living in the beautiful Eden Valley for over 35 years I still get a buzz every time I see those fells, woodlands and hills

With a name like Stuart James Fraser you might guess that my Father was a Scot and you would be right. He came down to Cumbria from Elgin in the highlands, initialy based here on national servce and then with the railways. On my many train journeys to the far north to visit and spend school holidays with my Grandparents, I could not believe how wild and dramatic the Cairngorms were. Sitting in freezing cold carriages in snowy highland stations with my nose pressed to the window, looking out at that splendid grandeur left strong images in my young brain.

Even then nature held a fascination for me and the wilder and more dramatic the sky the better. I am obsessed by attempting to paint skies, constantly trying to capture the softness and fleeting nature of them. I am always looking for those breaks in clouds that send stabs of light to illuminate the land below, they provide those sharp contrasts of intense greens, blues and rich browns that shine out against the usual muted olive and slate grey of our UK climate, Lightening even the dullest day.

Why Fraz?

I sign my work under my childhood nickname. In actual fact, while growing up very few people ever called me by my real name or probably even knew of my interest in art. However, my nickname looked (at least to me) as though it might stylise well as a logo Since then it stopped being something I rather disliked and became the nom de plume I have used to sign artwork for many years.

Evan

I am a member of the Eden Valley Artist Network, a collective of artists, organisations and venues based in the North Lakes and Eden Valley whose aim is to bring art and local artists to an audience. We have a permanent base at our EVAN Gallery and Studios at 4 Corney Place- Penrith - CA11 7PX - open 10 - 4 Tuesday-Sunday If you are looking to join such an organisation then Evan may be for you.

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