steve empsonI was born in 1953 in Hartlepool, an industrial town on the coast of Co. Durham in NE England. The things I liked about growing up there were the sea, and the hills; the steelworks, the shipyards, the docks and the fishing; I liked the weather and the fast changing light. It was a place with guts. The industry has gone now, but of course the sea, the hills, the weather and the light are still there, and it still has guts. Growing up, I drew and painted the place. I searched all its nooks and crannies, and I largely taught myself, learning through practice and my own enquiry. Place seemed to be my subject; that early belonging, to somewhere that was larger than life to me, had been so formative that it has never left me. I have spent many years drawing and painting places: India, Scandinavia, Greece and Oxfordshire, where I currently live – these are all places I know well. It is the coasts and the hills of Co. Durham and North Yorkshire that I have always returned to – the place I know in a way one can know no other place. Here I sketch, I write and I photograph. Sometimes I finish work, but mostly I bring it back to the studio. Most of it is mixed media – first sketched in charcoal, then worked in watercolour, then drawn on top with pastel; each time building up textures on the surface of the paper with every layer. I find it exciting to see it evolve; working within sets of relationships and making marks that will ultimately convey my feelings about the place.