The revered past masters of illustrative art, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Titian and Vermeer have all been instrumental in John Silver’s personal art education and continuing journey, as the (himself) critically acclaimed canine, equestrian, landscape and now, figurative artist goes from strength to strength in his latest creative guise. And speaking of ‘art education’ we’d like to point out that Silver’s was not your typical bricks and mortar learning curve, but rather his own practice makes perfect approach to the finer points of brushwork and canvas application, on account of him never having being formally trained in fine art illustration. That’s not to say Silver didn’t attend art school per se, just that his graphical route to where he eventually found himself was, well, of a more graphical and commercially-savvy persuasion rather than classical works.
Macclesfield in Cheshire served as Silver’s birthplace back in 1959, where and when his particular story began, although he now resides (and is studio-based) near Telford in Shropshire which was pretty much due west; and south a smidgeon. Known and collected globally on account of his unswervingly traditional canine art, Silver has always experimented with other genres, including landscapes and equestrian, yet has recently almost reinvented himself as something of a figurative artist; and a semi-erotic one at that, in a move which is as far (graphically) as an artist might ever travel. Although having said that, Silver did spent a number of years originating fantasy illustrations for computer magazines and games covers during its emergence in the early to mid-1980s which might help explain.
Silver clearly enjoyed art as a kid, as we learn that at the tender age of just five he declared that he wished to become an artist when he grew up. Firstly there was the small matter of secondary and further education to attend to though, as tends to be the case. In a single-minded Silver’s case, this meant eventually bagging a BA (Hons) degree in an art and design based discipline in 1984, before re-setting his sights on the bigger artistic picture. On graduating, Silver secured a role as a photographic retoucher with one of Manchester’s leading graphic and photography agencies, which meant his commercial artist/graphic design skills came in handy from the outset of his professional creative life. A year later and Silver moved on though, hankering after becoming a wildlife painter in his own right, but appreciating that he couldn’t just launch himself one at that juncture. In 1985 he accepted a position as a professional illustrator and freelance retoucher, specialising in fantasy air-brush illustrations. It was during this time that Silver’s interest in illustration’s more fantastical worlds were first noticed and his graphical skills in this field, developed. All of which would stand him in good stead for his second coming as a semi-nude figurative artist.
Silver has enjoyed in excess of some 100 limited edition prints based on his original compositions being produced for the mass market, having being created by the leading art publishing houses and galleries that he’s been associated with at different times in the past 20 years or so, whilst he’s also been responsible for self-publishing certain pieces as and when too. Industry recognition has followed shortly after, as Silver has been decorated by both the Fine Art Trade Guild and (more recently) the Guild of Erotic Artists. With reference to the former, Silver was awarded the ‘Best Upcoming Artist’ in 1994, whilst grabbing the ‘Best New Published Artist’ gong in 1998, whilst as a member of the Guild of Erotic Artists, collected their "Best Artist Award" in 2012.
Irrespective of which specific genre Silver chooses to craft his hugely popular compositions in, there’s no doubting the heavy influence that Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Vermeer and co had on him during his formative years and beyond, and still to this day Silver creates his own mix of oil paints based on those frequented by the old masters, dating back in some cases 500 years. discovering what Silver refers to as their illustrative ‘secrets’ he made it his early business to ape their not just their iconic styles of painted delivery but the materials they used to; essentially painting a "Grisaille", or monochromatic under painting and then glazing the colours over the top. According to Silver who has studied their techniques from the year dot this is still the best and quickest system to use in conjunction with traditional oils.
Housed worldwide, a percentage of Silver’s back catalogue of work is looked on as investments by seasoned collectors, some of whom include figures from the worlds of celebrity and British royalty, whilst Silver is also rightly proud to be numbered amongst the one and only living artist to have his work permanently hanging in the prestigious Kennel Club of London gallery, thus ensuring his place in the history books.