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Art of survival in Snowdonia; DAVID WOODFORD: Landscape painter says he has carved himself a nice little niche.

Byline: LAURA EVANS

A SELF-CONFESSED student of nature, a manic obsessive and a follower of destiny, David Woodford embraces many of the characteristics associated with many artists.

Yet while modern art is seemingly getting more and more fashionable he has been quietly cultivating a reputation as one of few painters who remains true to traditional art.

Based in the heart of the Welsh mountains, he has spent the past 40 years building up a portfolio of paintings based on his observations of the landscapes in Snowdonia.

His collection of landscape paintings captures the beauty of the mountains while expressing his unrelenting passion for his subject.

"It is simply impossible to ever tire of landscapes, " he says. "We are so enamoured by this world out there that landscapes will never become boring."

Woodford says he has carved out for himself a nice little niche in the art market simply by living in the heart of the mountains where his work originates.

"I have never come across another painter here in the mountains in years. Of course, you find those sitting on boxes in the car parks down below but you never find anyone actually working right in the middle, like I am."

The popularity of his work speaks volumes. He has sold 7,000 paintings to date, three-and-a-half times more than Monet, widely regarded as the king of the landscape.

Woodford was born in 1938 and his father, a parson, encouraged him to forge ahead with his own dreams.

"I think it is difficult for a lot of people to go off and pursue their natural vocation, but because my father was a parson and he followed his own career path there was never any doubt in my mind that I would follow suit, " he says.

On leaving school Woodford studied art and design in Leeds and went on to train and work as a teacher, but his artistic ambitions continued to burn until he became a a full-time artist. His calling came when he was accepted at the Royal Academy in London as a mature student.

"I was so pleased and I knew it suited me because I was so obsessive about what I did. There is absolutely no use having the talent, which I never profess to have, unless you have the sheer passion.

"When I left the academy I knew I would have to learn the art of survival rather quickly if I was going to succeed in what I wanted to do."

He and his family moved to North Wales in 1968 and he was able to support his wife and two sons through sales of his work.

"No one was more surprised than me about that, " he says. "Day by day things got a little bit better until I was making a fairly decent living out of it.

Despite my father's vocation I am a non-religious person, but it has been quite strange how much fortune I have had."

Many people would consider Woodford's decision to abandon the security of a teaching job to embark on a career as a full-time artist as a big risk.

"I never really thought I was taking a risk, " he said. "I had always been pushing rather than pulling. I have always been led by what I wanted to do rather than what society dictates."

Judging by his position now, it would seem his gamble has paid off.

He exhibits his work across Wales and was awarded the gold medal in Fine Art at the 1983 National Eisteddfod.

He may be at the pinnacle of his career and admits to leading a comfortable life on the back of it, but he immediately dismisses any suggestion of stopping.

"I will continue to paint for the rest of my life, " he says. "If you are obsessed by something as much as I am you don't automatically switch it on and off. There is no rationale to the way you work; you are simply a creative machine."

Info New Paintings by David Woodford RCA can be seen at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff from April 25May18.

A critical stance

DAVID Woodford takes a critical stance against modern art.

"The jury is still out on modern art, " he says.

"I think it has ground to a halt now and I think a lot of questions will start to be asked about the validity of this type of art.

"It seems to me people have invented new forms of art to meet their own ends.

"Painting is a special quality but I think that a lot of people who call themselves artists are just involved with the charisma and not the art itself."

CAPTION(S):

TRUE TO TRADITIONAL ART: Landscape painter David Woodford Picture: Richard Williams
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 23, 2002
Words:792
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