Indie Oxford Interview: Tim Steward Fine Art
This week, we chat to #indieOxford member Tim Steward about his lifelong love for art, and how Oxford has inspired much of his work.
Can you tell us how you became an artist and where you got your love for drawing buildings?
I have enjoyed art since I was a kid, and it was during A-level I really started to invest time in it, mainly drawing portraits of family and friends. I studied Town and Country Planning at University, and at this stage became particularly interested in urban design and the social and visual dynamic of spaces. I worked in Planning for 5 years and by this time my hobby had became a part time job, exhibiting in cafes, churches and restaurants in and around Oxford. As an artist you want to be immersed in your subject so I embarked on drawing what I love, Oxford architecture, and specifically the Radcliffe Camera. I drew this building hundreds of times over a year and it was in this season that I really started to build confidence in how to draw. Later that year I started a project of 60 drawings of Oxford Icons, which now sit in the Old Parsonage Hotel.
I embarked on drawing what I love, Oxford architecture, and specifically the Radcliffe Camera.
Which buildings in Oxford do you find particularly inspiring, and how do you capture the atmosphere of them?
The Radcliffe Camera is my favourite building in Oxford and Radcliffe Square remains a special place for me, a place to withdraw, and be at peace. I love the curves of the building, its majesty and unique design. Much of the University was built with the motto ‘Dominus illuminato Mae’, the Lord is my light, from Psalm 27, and this aspiring aspect to the architecture certainly feeds into my own work and the expression of the building artistically. The drawings have, if you like, an upward charge, and a looseness which comes from working at speed outside.
I think being authentic in your work is a huge thing, so drawing what you love and finding your voice is very important.
Have you faced any challenges in your work, and what lessons have you learned along the way?
Many challenges. I think being authentic in your work is a huge thing, so drawing what you love and finding your voice is very important. The life is the art in many ways, and vice versa. Finding your voice certainly doesn’t happen overnight and is a long road, so you have to love what you do. As a professional artist I think it is as important to have something to say as it is to be able to draw. Without the former, the work can lack a crucial element. Trying to engage with subjects such as beauty, our humanness and faith can be weighty but it can also be life giving as an artist and be a good way to engage and create dialogue. As with most things in life, you get what you put into it.
What advice would you give to people wanting to get into architectural drawing?
I think the secret to progression is to work outside, perhaps focusing on specific buildings you love and drawing views over and over to get your eye in. I believe practice is the best teacher, but it is useful to learn some basics about line, shading and perspective along your way. If you really want to hone your drawing skills, I’d recommend doing a course in classical drawing e.g London Fine Art Studios, or join a group like the ‘urban sketchers’ so you can draw with others, and share experiences.
Tell me about your plans for the rest of the year – do you have any big projects coming up?
I am heading to North Cornwall later in the year on an art residency to draw parts of the coastline near Tintagel. The rugged cliffs and angular shapes are, for me, a continuation from the architectural work. The sea itself is a great love, and the exhilaration of drawing in the elements in the autumn and winter time excites me. Alongside this work I will be continuing a series of drawings of English Cathedrals, with Winchester and Salisbury next in line.
We are delighted that Tim is part of our Independent Oxford community, and love that he captures our beautiful city in his unique and evocative drawings. You can find out more about Tim on his Tim Steward Fine Art page.
If you want to peek behind the scenes of some more awesome Oxford independents, check out our Indie Oxford Interviews.
Love, Rosie xxx