I’ve been asked to write something about myself and have wasted a lot of time trying to think of a way of building a grand edifice out of a very small pile of bricks. The best thing you can do is visit www.paulmacdermot.co.uk and you will see some examples of subjects I like to paint, and how I paint them. There is no great intellectual superstructure behind what I do. The painting is just a simple response to seeing something I really really like.
I was given a little formal art tuition at school when I was 14 and 15 by an art master who was of the old tradition…he’d been taught by Augustus John. I wanted to carry on in that vein but it came as a shock when I left school to discover that painting skills were not only no longer taught but were positively discriminated against. A lot of muddling through went on in my life after that, with the emphasis on ‘muddle’. I kept on painting and started professionally in 1987. I was lucky to meet the Scott Boltons, who gave me great encouragement and invited me to exhibit at the Summerleaze.
I continued to develop my painting and learnt by doing it and by reading lots of books and looking at many paintings. I’ve always enjoyed tone and understood it was the key to rendering light in all its variations. But I lacked a coherent strategy for dealing with it…results were variable … until I discovered this method of analysing the patterns of tone in front of me so that similar patterns of tone could be painted out on canvas, resulting in a faithful illusion. It has been the single most useful thing I have learnt in picture making