Oliver was born in 1972 and lives in Sussex with his family. Having never been to art college and not having received any formal art training he is entirely self-taught. Growing up Oliver spent many hours drawing in pencils and ink, giving him a firm grounding in the skills of observation and draughtsmanship which he sees as invaluable; “I make no attempt to convey a strong sense of abstraction in my work – I have always loved drawing and I feel that this discipline underpins my paintings and will always be evident in what I do. I love the sense of realism that accurate drawing brings to a composition.” In spite of that structure Oliver’s watercolours are loosely worked giving an impression of the scene; “To me watercolour is best when it is allowed to run free without being over-worked. Achieving this within the confines of a realistic approach is a balancing act, but I always try and provide the viewer with a sense of the place, not a rigorous study of every blade of grass!”
With Oliver’s work we explore the impact of light, the weather, and the seasons and how these combine to achieve paintings that are evocative and atmospheric; “As a landscape artist my inspiration comes from being outdoors where light, smells, sounds, and textures all combine to deliver an outstanding sensory experience - let's call it 'atmosphere' if you like. My aim is never to simply describe or illustrate a scene, rather to create a painting that provides an experience of the place. For example, even the humblest of outdoor sketches can take me back immediately to the moment I first created the image – I recall the distant hum of a chainsaw in the valley, or the salty smell of lobster pots on the quayside. The art in creating an atmospheric painting and a satisfying experience for the viewer is to somehow translate these sensory moments into colour and brushstrokes. The only way to do that is to be outdoors in the landscape, experiencing it. Take photos, do some quick sketches and by all means produce a finished painting from the comfort of home or the warmth of your studio - but there is no substitute for being outside, observing, touching, smelling, listening. It will give your work an extra dimension - atmosphere.
"My preferred medium, which I use exclusively at present, is watercolour. It is by far the most challenging of all painting media to master. A watercolour painter finds that although transparency can be the best of friends, it may also equally be the worst of enemies! The immediacy and freshness of watercolour make it a joy to use - sloshing fluid, transparent washes of colour onto paper is a process that I enjoy far more than scrubbing and trowelling thick, plasticky oil paints onto canvas. It is that transparency that can quickly become your enemy - you just cannot paint over your mistakes, or you end up with dull, muddy paintings. If you get it wrong, you start again! It really is that unforgiving. In spite of its technical challenges I find that watercolour is the perfect medium for capturing the British landscape. The cool, crisp northern light that we have been given generally produces scenes that have muted tones from a colour palette largely comprising soft greys and warm browns. "How very dull," I hear you say. Not so! As a painter, working with this range of colours creates pictures that are soft and welcoming and watercolour is perfect for conveying this delicate balance of tones and hues. Furthermore, the transitory nature of the weather and light in Britain means that capturing a scene as quickly as possible is often essential, and for this purpose watercolour is ideal."
"Despite my warnings to the contrary, have a go yourself! Get some paper and a set of watercolours and play around, and you will start to understand the way it behaves. Throw in an abundance of patience and you will find that you have started a thoroughly engaging hobby that is fun, unpredictable, challenging, and will take you wherever you allow it to go! It is that process of development that makes painting so enjoyable. As an artist I never envisage an achievable style where I feel that I have ‘arrived.’ I am more interested in progression and the development of my style and work and this should never have a conclusion. Seeing my work progrees and develop and being unable to predict which direction it will take provides the impetus to keep on painting."