Raise your hand if you’ve ever said the following…
“I’ll never be any good at art”
or worse, someone else has said…
“You’ll never be any good at art”.
My name’s Colin Bradley and as far back as I remember I have always liked drawing. My art lessons at school were non eventful but I still enjoyed painting and drawing.
One day I was doing a picture of a firework night scene using coloured chalks. I was really proud of my achievement and couldn’t wait for my teacher to see it.
“That’s rubbish, you’ll never be any good at art”
That thoughtless comment stayed with me for nearly 30 years.
Over the years I did do the occasional drawing. Like all parents I wanted to show off to my kids and they thought I was great and challenged me to all sorts of subjects.
It seems strange now that before that time I had never considered drawing for myself.
A friend of mine made bone china birds as a hobby and I agreed help him paint them after they were fired. Very soon I was designing them and used coloured pencils to colour them in.
He thought that the pictures were good and said I should paint a few pictures of birds.
He suggested that I visit local art shows to compare my paintings with what was on show. This gave me the confidence that I needed.
It was during this period that my life turned upside down.
My wife was being treated for a cancerous mole on her arm and the cancer spread to other areas very quickly.
She died in 1980, aged 36.
My world and that of my two children came tumbling down…
I threw myself into my artwork with a passion. I found for me it was a way I was able to cope with the pain and loss.
For about a year I painted many pictures, giving them away to family and friends.
Not only was I enjoying my new hobby but I was getting better at it…
A few months earlier I met a professional artist and I asked him what he thought of my work. My expectations were low and he made several very helpful suggestions as to how I could improve it.
At no time did he criticise my paintings.
He stopped me as I left and told me that within a few years I would become very well known for my art.
I painted furiously for the next year partly because I hoped what he said would come true, and partly to escape the grief I was feeling.
I decided to visit a local art gallery to see if they would show my work. It was owned and run by a professional artist called Tony Blackman.
He liked my pictures and agreed to show several of them.
By the time I arrived home, Tony had telephoned saying he already made a sale.
I was numb. I couldn’t believe it…
He asked me if I would consider having an exhibition. I agreed and set to work building up my collection.
On New Years Eve 1981 I hosted a party for friends and family. My brother brought along a mutual friend of his whose name was Eileen.
The highlight of the evening was my attraction to this lovely lady, I realised she was rather special…
The exhibition opened in April 1982 and was a major success; I sold 50% of my work. It was at this time I met up with Eileen again and took her to the exhibition. I was determined not to let her go…
Friends of mine recently moved to the seaside town of Broadstairs. I took Eileen down to meet them and she too fell in love with the town.
I asked my friend to look out for a place that I could use as a gallery with living accommodation.
By the end of July we had moved in and we opened on 1st August 1982.
…Eileen and I even found the time to get married.
An Undiscovered Medium
After a couple of years the business was going great and I was looking to expand the range and variety of my skills.
A friend of mine was visiting and noticed my watercolour pictures featured animals and asked if I could paint a portrait of his dog.
I had included many animals in my paintings and had found them both easy to do and enjoyable to paint.
However I found that close up portraits were not easy.
After several tries I had to admit I was beaten.
A few weeks later I went to my local art store and a box of pencils attracted my attention.
I had used normal coloured pencils but these were a different consistency – chalky, like pastel sticks I had played with at school.
I thought that maybe these could be used to draw animals…
At first I tried using them the same way as coloured pencils, but that was no good so I played with them until I produced some kind of result.
I found that the animal portraits were the best subject material so I started producing them by the score.
Soon I was happy enough to place one of my pictures (a dog) in my gallery window for sale.
Within a day I had sold it.
So I did more…
and sold them too.
It was then I thought it might be a good idea to sell the pastel pencils in my gallery and held an open evening.
During the evening a small group of customers said they would buy the pencils if I could teach them how to use them.
Within 2 years I had four classes running and still had a waiting list, this was 1988.
In 2005 I stopped teaching private classes and in 2007 I started my YouTube Channel. I am honoured to be able to teach the techniques I developed from scratch to student’s all around the world.
My students are getting outstanding results and many are selling their pictures as quickly as I did.
If I had held onto what my teacher had told me, I would never have discovered my passion for drawing. Let me leave you with two points…
Everyone can draw.
And believe me when I say…
It can be therapeutic.
I have been using the pastel pencils for over 30 years and am still amazed at what they can achieve…
If you want to try them for yourself, click below to get my free kitten course, I think you’ll be amazed too.
Thanks for reading.