Hi! I’m Richard McKerron, and it appears that over the last few years I’ve become somewhat of a creative magpie! I hadn’t realised this until very recently, and I’ll explain 'why'
I was born in Kent on the Isle of Sheppey and grew up between there and Highbury, London. I was completely unfussed about football, but I miss the coast and I miss the busy, all-action feel of the city streets, the London Underground and Camden Lock. It amuses me no end when people refer to Nottingham as ‘busy’, so on the grand scale of things Derby City is as peaceful to me as the fields outside of Belper are to the town’s central residents!
I moved to Derby for University in 1999 and have stuck around ever since. I have GCSEs in Art and Music, although my studies took me across to Music Technology and studio work in an era before everyone had dial-up and I still listened to cassette tapes. I became a secondary school music teacher for quite a while, but eventually jumped ship from that, thanks to an opportunity to work with an international company that specialised in world music instruments for schools. This led me to developing my Djembe skills and starting a small community group in Derby, which Kelly and Suzanne were kind enough to allow us to do some busking and workshops during the Belper Arts Trail a few years ago. That encouragement and seeing what was around in Belper inspired me. With my new found freedom I started actually writing music (something I hadn’t had time to do in over fifteen years) and also began sketching and drawing again.
I’m a reluctant perfectionist at times and hyper-critical of things that I do. I have clear ideas in my head as to how something should turn out on the page, but it’s never quite perfect when I hand draw it. I wanted perfect curves and blades in my artwork. I wanted crisp edges. I wanted mathematically consistent graded shading with no accidental deviance from white to black as it bled across the grey scale spectrum. But I’m not a machine.
In recent years I’d started taking photos at live local gigs. After investing in a decent camera and lens I then needed to make the jump to using the RAW file format and using Adobe software for post-production and editing. This was a major turning point, as the package I invested in came with both Lightroom (for photograph editing) and Photoshop.
I taught myself how to use Photoshop (and I’m still learning) and figured out the absolute genius of using vector shapes. In a nutshell, vectors are objects, not brush strokes. You can dictate the lines and curves of the object so precisely and moreover can alter and edit those hours later if you change your mind about their placement. You can also layer lots of different objects into their own group or folder, which means that you can move entire subsections of an image around on the canvas without causing any negative impact on the rest of the work that you’ve done! Absolute game changer for me.
I proceeded to scan in my hand drawn ‘almost-perfect’ sketches into the computer, set the canvas to A2 and then began to add vectors all over my sketch work. My curves and blades became as perfect as I wanted. The edges became infinitely crisp. The shading from white across to black using all the grey scale in between became leagues more vivid that I could have imagined!
But I’m not a machine! I love the results in my black and white artwork. The hand-drawn curves and plans are still felt in the digital results and wouldn’t have existed if I’d started each piece on the computer. The clinical lines would never have been present if I hadn’t used the computer. A true hybrid between human and technology making use of the computer without the computer doing the work.
After I completed the Hindsight collection, I moved on to a second style that I developed. This uses the synergy in a similar way, but relies on an art tablet and brushstrokes instead of vectors (this means mostly getting it right first time and less chance of re-editing hours later). The Lauderdale building is the first major high-rise that you see as you leave The Barbican Underground station in London. I took a quite photo a few years ago and when I came across it again I decided to re-imagine it. I take a photo and place it on the bottom layer of the digital canvas and then ‘hand sketch’ the black lines of the entire canvas on a layer above this. After that, I digitally ‘hand paint’ the colours and blends using all sorts of brushes, pastels, chalks, ink spotting and smudging to create the colours and textures of the building. There is a technique called ‘masking’ which allows you to carefully erase parts of a layer, so my zooming right in to the black sketch lines I can make sure that there is no unwanted colour bleeding. This gives much more freedom when smudging sections into (or out of) place.
This technique also led on to a sizable commission for Purple Jam Media who asked me to do a huge promotional image with five different scenes for a new indie dev computer game.
I enjoy making art. It’s hideously time consuming at times but I’ve fallen in love with the end results, which is a wonderful feeling of pride and completion. As such, I’ve decided that I will keep the original 12 Hindsight images that I have had printed for exhibitions, but will allow a single identical mounted reprint of each at A2 to be made. This means there will only ever be one or two of these in existence in their original intended state.
So, acoustic fingerstyle folk music, industrial electro music, djembe workshops, gamelan workshops, gig photography, gig promotion, session recording, website design, gardening and allotment work, stark black and white abstract art, dark foreboding architectural art, commissions… I think ‘creative magpie’ is spot on.
If you like my artwork, please do give the Facebook/Instagram a like/follow and get in touch! I’m available for commissions and if you see something that you like that isn’t listed for sale anywhere, then do ask, as not all of it has been listed. The wonderful thing about digital canvassing is that they can often be re-printed to an exact size specification.
Richard McKerron (Outsider Art Prints)
You can view more of my work on my website and you can contact me via email.
You can find more of my art on my social media pages. Give me a like or a follow on Facebook and Instagram.
I also have an Etsy shop if you would like to see more work for sale.