"As a boy I played with toy soldiers a lot and painted many detailed battle scenes, but what I liked more than the drama of fake explosions and the thrill of combat was the colour of the uniforms and being totally absorbed in creating a miniature world in which my role was simultaneously director, script writer, actor and audience. Painting for me is like a grown up version of playing with toy soldiers. When I work it often reminds me of the way I would spend hours painting my soldiers uniforms, only the pale blue of a confederates trousers has now become the sky and his grey tunic a passing cloud.
"I like to paint scenes that are unusual, surreal even, but not impossible – they could happen, in fact sometimes I wish they would. A tree shaped into the form of a giant topiary fish is something I once painted and would actually create, perhaps surrounded by other topiary sea creatures.
"My intention generally is to make images that are simple and have just the right amount of information, no more or less than is necessary to hold your attention. Producing something very simple that works well is not a simple task and requires the skill of achieving the balance between too busy and too boring.
"The other balancing act between serious and frivolous is also important to me. If one of my paintings is seen as poetic, humorous, fun, intriguing and thought provoking, then I would consider it an ideal summary. Over the course of my career I have evolved a group of themes (topiary, soldiers, musicians, trees, Edwardian ladies, canal scenes etc) that have become like old friends. Some may disappear for a while only to revisit me later, perhaps slightly changed, because like memories they are affected by time, but for them times arrow can point in any direction.
"For an artist a set of favourite themes, just like friends, should sometimes be added to in order to prevent an over reliance on the familiar. For example, I recently met a group of nice rabbits and they have introduced me to some chickens, but I do not know how long either of them will be around. In fact the burrows are looking very empty at the moment, or is that just the presence of the fox?"
Greg trained at Leeds University and the Royal College of Art, London. His work as an illustrator has been commissioned by Dorling Kindersley, Puffin Books, Heinemann, Hewlett Packard, BBC Publications, LWT, The Guardian, The Times and New Scientist Magazine.
Dulwich Walks, Jane Newbery Gallery, London
Group Show, Ampleforth Abbey College
Art For Youth, Brockenhurst College
Group Show, The Long Curve
Alan Kluckow Fine Art, Sunningdale
Schley Ritchie Gallery, Atlanta
Battersea Contemporary Art Fair
Battersea Affordable Art Fair
Art For Youth, Mall Galleries, London
Two Person Show, Deborah Bates Fine Art
Christmas Show, Sally Hunter Fine Art
Princess Schoonerfish, Royal National Theatre, London