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The story behind 'Fowey Fun' Artist John Dyer's feature Painting and Print of Fowey

  • 2 min read

The story behind 'Fowey Fun' Artist John Dyer's feature Painting and Print of Fowey

Above: Detail of John Dyer's painting 'Fowey Fun'.

Creating art on the River Fowey

On the 23rd April 2013 John Dyer was invited by one of his private collectors to take a private boat trip on the River Fowey to explore the possibility of painting a major new painting capturing the whole of Fowey and Polruan.

"What a commission! I had been asked to take on the whole of Fowey and Polruan in one painting! Could it be done? How could I bring my vision and energy to such a vast landscape as this?

As with all of my commissions I have an immediate urge to run - to run away from the challenge, but very quickly that emotion changes to one of deep fascination to be able to get into the mind of the person who has already imagined what I might do. The idea of a third person being able to imagine what my mind hasn't conjured up yet is really bizarre and I always end up accepting to at least explore the concept, which inevitably leads to my mind racing away with colour and composition.

For this new painting I had to meet at 11am on a chilly April morning in Fowey where a ferry boat had been chartered for my private use. How could I resist that!

We sailed out onto the river and I started to get an idea of just what a task this was. I could see the landmark Church in Fowey, the Fowey Sailing Club, Red Rocket, Fowey Hotel, the Esplanade, Fowey Hall, Dawn French's house, the Castle, mouth of the river and the whole of Polruan.

I snapped away on my camera, taking reference for key parts of the town. I was visualising all the time, looking across the water, asking the skipper to motor from one headland to the next, adjusting my perspective and searching for ways of capturing the essence of this amazing place.

My wife, and fellow artist, Joanne Shortaccompanied me on our boat to and she loved the experience or exploring the harbour visually, truing to map it all out in a panoramic, almost 3D landscape for the panting.

Artist Joanne Short on a boat on the River Fowey

Above: Artist Joanne Short enjoying exploring the River Fowey whilst John Dyer researched his painting.

The brightly coloured boats, ferries, fishing boats and sails all suggested that it would be a great painting, but it was only when I finally took out my drawing book and pencil that it all started to come together.

Being out on the water was the inspiration, but the drawing I made with just a few simple sweeping curves solved the dilemma. The painting had to be 'all round' in the same way that the Cornish primitive artist Bryan Pearce used the visionary technique to capture St Ives and Newlyn harbours. By painting Fowey like this and by taking a high view point from the land my mind could see the entire estuary.

Fowey Fun - By John Dyer

While I was still bobbing about in the bay I allowed my mind to fly far up and away across the landscape to look back at myself on the water and it was this vision that created my painting and print 'Fowey Fun'."

John Dyer