Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Artist Leon Ridyard

Today it is my absolute pleasure to host an interview the lovely Mr. Leon Ridyard; brilliant artist, funny, charming and a great Twitter follow @DonaldFlake. Leon is embarking on a brand new way of life and within weeks of giving up the day job to follow his art and passion, he has been commissioned to paint a series of paintings for an esteemed European restaurant and is excited about some recent commissions from writers to do illustrative work.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I listen more than talk but I wouldn't consider myself as quiet or shy. I also like to work hard to achieve things and have a very warm and loving partner who gives me lots of support.

When did you start painting seriously? What's your favourite medium to work in?

started to paint landscapes when I moved to London. My early paintings provided an escape to all the dull temping jobs Iwas doing to bring money in. They took on a surreal quality, often mixing interiors of a house with exterior views. I started with Acrylic paint and recently discovered Windsor and Newton watercolours. I can't get enough because they retain a good quality colour whether you apply them in thin or thick layers. You can actually feel the difference in quality they have in comparison to cheaper paints.

What is your favourite subject to paint?

Landscapes has always been my main interest. I was brought up in a suburban town with lots of green areas near to the countryside. As a child i was always trundling around parks on my bike, often spending hours travelling to fields or woodland. Places where you could use your imagination to battle aliens or somewhere to look at insects and climb trees.

Who was your early influence? Whose work now inspires you?

I'll never forget the reproductions of paintings hung on the walls at my parent's home. I connect areas in the house where the pictures were hung. 'The hunters in the snow' by Pieter Bruegel. This was opposite the dining table. I saw it when I ate food with my family. People coming home after a days work, children playing. I love the trees with no leaves and crows. 'L'hiver' and 'Printemps' by Alphonse Mucha, paintings that gave me thoughts of safety and warm sunny days in the morning. 'Portrait of a boy (Rembrandt's son?)' by Rembrandt Van Rijn. This was a large reproduction surrounded by a traditional gold frame. For many years I actually believed it was an old painting and not a copy.
I'm currently inspired by painters Emma Haworth and George Shaw. I love the locations and atmospheres in their paintings. I also keep returning to the Tate Britain gallery to see the Romantic painters. I like studying the difference in leaves between Constable and Gainsborough's trees.

You've recently started working with author's on illustrations and book covers - how does this differ from your 'gallery' work and what do you enjoy about this type of project?

I've always though my paintings were easily transferable into print. I also have many other ideas which don't relate to landscapes and are purely illustrative. I have a lively imagination and am extremely romantic (in an artistic sense). I get excited when I open a book I've been reading for a while as if I'm embarking on a fantastic voyage to somewhere enchanted, even if its a dictionary. When creating illustrations I have to consider the reader and select an image that will reflect and enhance the environment and mood within a story. I'd love to work with more authors because I enjoy collaborating with others and welcome the challenge of adapting ideas to help enrich a preset narrative.

Describe your work space? Do you have any funny little rituals?

I work mostly in the kitchen on a table. I dream of having a studio. I have a ritual of putting the paint palette on my right hand side, being left handed I've often knocked it off the table or put my elbow into the paints in the past. I sometimes work with music but its not essential.

Favourite secret activity?

Dreaming. I have very odd dreams and I remember a lot of the details. Sometimes I remember one part and trigger a 'rewind made' where i remember the rest of dream.

Favourite film?

Most recently it was 'Norwegian Ninja'. It came out last year and is a mixture of Mighty Boosh and Wes Anderson.

Silliest thing you've done this month?

As I walked out of Costa coffee the other week I wandered what the people in the queue were laughing at. I got outside and realised I'd put my cycle helmet on backwards. It looks completely ridiculous if you wear it backwards.

Dinner party guests - you can have 4 dead or alive.
Rick Stien could be the cook, Vincent Van Gogh can bring the furniture, Mitch Hedberg for entertainment and Nina Simone for conversation/songs.

Giveaway - Leon is giving away 2 signed prints of his art work. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post.


  1. Love Mitch Hedburg - boy did we lose an amazing comic artist with him. He could really make me laugh. Would love to win a print. Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
    Twitter: @fangswandsfairy

  2. Hi!! Whould love to win a print^^
    Twitter: @MelissaDempsey1

  3. I would like to be entered in this contest please!! =)
    Ive always had a fondness for trees, but mostly when theres no leaves and they all have fallen. I never knew where it stems from, but I cant stop drawing/taking pics of the =D weird? lol

    TValeros18 @ gmail [dot] com
    SpadesHigh @
    @spadesHigh <=twitter

    Thanks for hosting this awesome giveaway!!

  4. Andy R-M

    nice work giving up the day job Leon, you deserve good things and I look forward to receiving my print

  5. Thanks for all your comments. Prints in the post soon!

  6. Superb interview Mr.Leon Ridyard !! your first and best lines is "I listen more than talk but I wouldn't consider myself as quiet or shy." and i will gonna to follow you on twitter ...!! :)

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