It was a move as an eight year old child to the West Country from his home in Derby that was to be a pivotal moment in the life of a young Paul Kenton. He spent his teenage years learning to surf on the beaches of North Devon, leading to him travelling the world as a keen surfer. It was during these travels he became inspired for what was to be his true passion - art. Now happily settled in Ilfracombe with his wife and two children, he still finds time to surf when not painting in the studio and managing the hectic role of husband and father.
Paul first began to show an interest in art and painting at a young age, his friends wanted to be doctors or pilots but he distinctly recalls telling a friend he wanted to be an artist. At the age of twelve he won a national competition for colouring that further cemented the desire - his prize was a much desired set of paints. An avid artist at school, he continued to paint throughout his teenage years, becoming especially proficient in the use of watercolours - but was to be disappointed in failing to get into Art College because of poor English grades. Disillusioned, he swapped the paintbrush for a protractor and went to Stafford University, coming out with a Bachelor in Engineering. Beginning a career as a draughtsman, his painting was relegated to a hobby.
1995 was to be a turning point for Paul, supported by a grant awarded by the Princes Youth Business Trust he began to paint full time. With oil and acrylic as his medium of choice he took his well travelled past as inspiration for his future; cityscapes, bridges, harbours and cafes. Ten years on, it's clear his style has evolved - now more concerned with capturing the essence of a location rather than the precise details, he creates colourful, atmospheric pieces dripping with line and shapes.
Kenton was inspired by early Monet, he loved the way that his paintings evoked a mood rather than just representing a scene - he compares his own work as a short film clip to a still photograph.
Still a keen surfer, he loves the sea and the moods of the ocean, fascinated by the way the light and water interact with each other. His newer works frequently show examples of this interest, with heavy emphasis on reflection and movement. The early evening light, and the colours that light create are of particular interest and his work captures that warm evening glow perfectly. His Cityscapes compare and reflect the differing moods of man made landscapes and he loves expressing the furious movement, bustle and vibrancy of a modern city centre.
Creating the art
A combination of photographs and rough sketches in pencil help Paul rekindle the emotion of a scene, occasionally he will also jot down words and phrases to help. He paints his canvases flat, only a few inches from the floor, so he doesn't have to bend over too far. Paul loves a blank canvas, seeing it as a mixture of anticipation and excitement.
Foregoing sketching, he dives right in with large brushes and big pots of paint, dripping on an outline before throwing the paint on. This technique allows him great freedom to build up each layer, with broad strokes and drips of colour until he starts to see form and sense the atmosphere he was trying to achieve. His partner, Alex is often on hand to cast a critical eye before it gets too fussy - they've often been to the places together so she can understand the moods he's trying to recapture.
A day in the life of Paul Kenton
At around 6am, his youngest child usually wakes them and he can't do anything else before a cup of tea. Two to three days a week he'll have an early swim of a couple of miles - the other days he helps out getting the children ready. After breakfast he likes to do the school run and then walk the dog along the beach, if there's good waves he will surf before the crowds arrive. He uses this fresh early morning time to plan his day and think about his current piece, or develop new ideas. His studio is built in an old railway building, where he can get away and concentrate.
Paul paints most days and fails to discipline himself to set hours, despite trying. He sometimes listens to music, the news or even a radio play - although he says that silence is also sometimes nice and tries his best to finish on time, so he can spend time with the children and have a family meal together.