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Student Stories: Neil Cramond

Updated: 6 days ago

"I am in my late forties based in South West Scotland, drive HGV through the night away from home in order to afford Michael Harding oil paints, Rosemary and Co brushes, and linen on stretcher bars... Also, I have a very supportive wife and a twenty year old drain on my resources, who we are both very proud of for his acting achievements so far. We also feed and walk and pander to every whim of a crazy Jack Russell and Pug crossbreed called Bear."

OCA BA Painting Student Neil Cramond shares his learning journey with us.


What is your previous educational experiences and what drew you to OCA?

I gained a HND in Retail Marketing after I left school. Up until fifth year my plan was to go to Glasgow School of Art, something that was supported by every single teacher I had due to my developing artistic tendencies except for my Higher Art teacher who shattered my confidence and made me look at an alternative career path. I went into Sales and Account Management but always regretted not following my inner passion for what I was good at. We encouraged our son to follow his passion for acting, and watching him bloom made me turn to distance learning to fulfil my own desires.

Can you describe your OCA journey?

For me, it took seven years to complete the four year BA hons course whilst holding down a full time occupation away from home and being a husband and father, so making time to dedicate to studying and developing my artistic practice was quite tricky. My wife's mother also stayed with us and she developed dementia which is a horrible condition, so we all cared for her for several years. I actually documented this experience in my Painting 2 module as this was during Covid-19 pandemic.

Initially I wasn't too keen to look at Art and artists that didn't 'float my boat', I only looked at Art and artists that I was naturally interested in and I think I missed a trick by not being open enough to learn from their processes. Fortunately one of my tutors helped me to overcome this.

What was the Tutor and/or Peer Support like on your course?

Peer support has been critical, I joined a group during my second module in my first year of studies, we arranged to meet fortnightly via zoom meetings to crit each others work and we are all on different pathways and speeds, but we still meet up. This was invaluable experience when it came time to talk about Major Project work. Tutor Bryan Eccleshall deserves a special mention for gradually teasing me away from my Classical Realist tendencies and guiding me (yelling, kicking and screaming) to look at other types of art and artwork where vastly different artists might have a process that I could relate to. This was a light bulb moment as I understood that I could combine my strongly held beliefs of a solid drawing practice along with a more expressive paint handling technique to produce a unique outcome.

What does studying with OCA mean to you?

In short this has been a journey of both self-discovery and validation. Self-discovery in terms of pushing myself to learn oil painting techniques of the Old Masters as well as contemporary artists. Paint was a medium I hadn't used until I joined OCA, I was always more comfortable with pencils and drawing. The fact that my practice has now grown to the extent that I am teaching adults to paint in my studio is quite something. Gaining the BA hons is validation to myself that I was good enough to do this thirty years ago despite what my Higher Art Teacher said.

What's next?

I have made a strong connection with a fellow artist through joining the Open Studios Ayrshire. I now share a studio space where we both teach classes and workshops as well as exhibit with the group at local galleries or within the existing studio space so this is good for networking as we are creating our own artistic hub in the area. I continue to take commissions for pet portraits in oil and do human portraits too. The painting of local celebrity Rose Reilly which is in the public domain at the Rose Reilly Sports Centre in Stewarton and this has given me a thirst for painting celebrities portraits. The process of producing my own exhibition gave me an insight to do this again in the future.

Any advice?

Make as many connections as you can by joining sketch clubs or Open Studios as they get you to exhibit your work, sometimes at prestigious galleries, which is a good experience. Network with other artists, we tend not to hold each other back, we rather raise each other up. Sometimes by embracing something you would not naturally gravitate to, you can learn something new - a new process or technique which can add to your own practice. Use the limitless resource that is YouTube for techniques and ideas.


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1 commento

Emma Drye
Emma Drye
5 days ago

Well done Neil, a great achievement!

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