A HENLEY man with a lifelong passion for art is staging his first exhibition at the age of 60.
This month, John Loader will invite the public to view his landscapes, still lifes and portraits at his home studio in Deanfield Road.
The former graphic designer has been painting and drawing almost daily since he retired three years ago. He works mostly in oils, but occasionally uses acrylics or watercolours.
Most of his pieces depict local landscapes, which he paints in the open air with a portable easel and palette. He then adds the finishing touches at home.
When the weather is unsuitable or he does not have time, he takes a photograph or sketches the vistas in a pocket notebook and recreates them on canvas afterwards.
Mr Loader, who grew up in Crazies Hill, left school aged 17 to study at the Berkshire College of Art in Reading. He began his design career at 19 and became self-employed five years later.
He said: “It’s naturally hard to find time for hobbies when you’re running a busy business, but now that I have time it’s something I’m doing more and more of.
“Art has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember — I often make paintings to give away as presents to friends and relatives.
“I had done sketches outdoors before I retired, but I had never actually painted outdoors. It started because I was walking the dog all the time and decided to carry my sketchbook around with me. Not every trip ends successfully, but I would say that I get something reasonable from about two-thirds of my walks. I’m normally out for about three hours at a time.
“I really enjoy it, although it can be a challenge when it’s snowy. I started doing one earlier this year but didn’t appreciate how cold it was until I got about halfway through. By the time I had finished, I could barely bend down to pick my gear up.
“I try to get out several times a week — I love painting on the Ridgeway or around villages like Russell’s Water, Maidensgrove, Bix and Christmas Common. I’m always looking for new places.
“It definitely gets attention from other walkers. They often stop and watch me working or to chat and ask questions, especially if I’m anywhere along the river.They’re always really nice — I don’t think there are many people who would be rude about what I’m doing.”
Mr Loader also paints portraits of his family, some of which appear in his exhibition. These include one of his wife Jane, which he made in 1976, his mother Irene and several of his daughter Hannah’s children, Tom and Ellie.
The show is one of 17 taking place across the Standard patch as part of this month’s Oxfordshire Artweeks. There are two more in Henley — one at estate agent Hamptons International in Hart Street and another at artist Antony Duckett’s studio in Northfield End.
Goring is hosting five, including one at Art@Goring in High Street, while a further five are being held at the Ewelme Pottery.
For full listings and opening times, see www.artweeks.com or call 01865 865596.
THE fourth Caversham Arts Trail will be held on over this weekend and next weekend.
The trail will take place in 13 different venues across Caversham with 29 artists taking part. This year there will be eight new artists and three new venues. There will be a map to download and details of all artists on the website www.cavershamartstrail.co.uk.
Work will include ceramics, painting, collage, stained glass, knitted textiles, prints, découpage, jewellery, sculpture and batik.
The trail gives members of the public the opportunity to meet the artists in their own studios and learn about their techniques (at the same time as having a snoop around people’s homes and gardens) and buy work directly from them.
There will also be a silhouette-cutting workshop run by Charles Burns, and a variety of demonstrations including Tai chi by Debbie Page, silversmithing by Matt Hitch, Chinese brush painting by Jean Turton, slip casting and hand building ceramics by Lauren Denney and poetry open-mic sessions with Robin Thomas. Refreshments including home-made cakes will be available at some venues.
To whet the appetite you can see a taster of the event with images of the artists’ work on display at the Caversham Library and Central Library, Reading in the lead up to the trail.
The trail runs over this weekend and next, May 11 and 12 and 17 to 19. Admission is free and all venues are open from 11am to 5pm.
You can follow the trail on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cavershamartstrail and Twitter http://twitter.com/CavArtsTrail