Exeter based artist Mark Loman shares his passion for oil painting and Devon landscapes

Tell us how you got into painting… have you always been arty?
I was always a bit arty, yes. I used to love drawing at school and at home when I was young – it was by far my strongest subject at school. After I left school I didn’t draw or paint until I got into my 30’s. I remember buying a small watercolour set after seeing a view across the estuary and decided to have a go at painting it. It was horrible! It was not until 2001 that I really got the bug. A trip to Italy and looking around the amazing art in the museums led to me buying a pencil and pad, and there I started drawing. I began to spend all my spare time learning everything I could find on how to draw and paint, and have hardly stopped since. It’s a great journey!

You predominantly work with oil paints. What is it about oil painting that you like so much?
Oils are wonderful! The colours are vibrant and don’t change colour or tone when they are applied to a canvas. I started in watercolours and then went on to acrylics, before settling on oils – they are much more forgiving than watercolours. I find them the easiest to work with which makes painting less frustrating and more fun. They can be used very thick (Impasto) which can create fabulous structure and a 3D quality, or with thin transparent washes giving extra depth. When used together they can give a painting a wonderful contrast and interest.

How would you describe your painting style?
I love to paint on the spot, from life, and immersed in my subject, as the light and colours are far superior to a photograph and the spontaneity of having to work quickly produces an energy that is difficult to reproduce in the studio. What I strive for is an impressionist, painterly reality, with a strong design structure and a close up mosaic of interesting brushwork.
You’ve painted a lot of Exmouth, Exeter and the surrounding areas. What has been your favourite landscape to paint?
This has changed quite a bit over the years. From the Exmouth estuary and Shelly Gut where I enjoyed including the characterful old boats and boat yards, to figurative paintings and portraits to push my drawing to the next level. Now I just love the hustle and bustle of the city, which is a huge challenge painting from life in order to capture the people and light on the move, with lots of people looking over my shoulder.

You’re very lucky to have such beautiful landscapes and scenery to be inspired by so close to home, but what else do you take inspiration from in your work?
Yes, my home area has a wealth of great subjects to paint, but it is other works of art that are a big inspiration for me. I have always avidly studied the modern and old masters works with delight and often visit London Galleries to view them in the flesh – studying them from books only gets you so far. I can view paintings by John Singer Sargent, Sorolla or Monet for an absolute age.

Everyone has a favourite spot in Devon and with the amount of stunning locations in the county it’s impossible for you to capture the beauty of them all. Do you offer commissions and how much can our readers expect to pay?
Yes I do offer painting commissions and they start at £350.

Where can our readers see more of your work?
You can see more of my works at www.markloman.co.uk and contact me directly through the website. You can also see some of my paintings in Exeter at the South Gate Gallery, 64 South Street, Exeter and at the Exmouth Gallery, Exeter road, Exmouth.

Interview by Jake Tucker

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