From Stage to Studio
PUBLISHED: 11:29 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 20 February 2013
After putting down the guitar and picking up a paintbrush, Mark Paul Perry has made a big impact on the art world during his meteoric rise
Perhaps the mark of a true artist is the apparent ease with which a hand can be turned to almost anything creative; certainly something Beckenham-based Mark Paul Perry has embraced with gusto.
Born in Sidcup, Mark's original focus was a very different art form.
An accomplished guitarist and songwriter, he performed with British band State of Mind for nine years and, after a tour with Australian rock band AC/DC fell through, started his own publishing company and ran a recording studio for three years.
However, stepping out of the limelight didn't mean an end to his creativity. "I've always been interested in art, and been able to paint," says Mark, "and when I bought a house and spent a year and a half renovating it, I wanted to put some original art on the walls."
After touring some galleries and finding art was by no means cheap, he started to put a few of his own works up in the living areas. "People began to see them - producers, songwriters - and so I started selling to people I knew. "When I put a painting into a gallery in West Wickham and it sold within six hours, I thought, there must be something in this."
Entirely self-taught, Mark shrugs off the suggestion that an art education would be of benefit. "I'm a strong believer that painting cannot be taught, it can only be found," he says. "It's inside you, and for me expression is everything. Being able to express myself and put it on canvas is a gift - I absolutely love painting."
Mark's work is inspired by snapshots of specific moments in time or memories of particular events in his life. "I endeavour to capture these moods and emotions in the most basic form - light, colour and texture - which represent their fundamental essence."
Perhaps his most easily recognised works, however, are the landscapes. "I've always been a landscape painter. I've got this thing about painting rivers and mountains, I've drawn them since I was a child, and it's something I'm still passionate about.
"I've always been a Picasso lover - we share a birthday, which is pretty cool - and Rothko and Turner are also big influences. There are so many."
Working with oil, acrylic and gesso on canvas, linen board and paper, the texture and movement for which Mark is known is created by manipulating the medium, often with a knife and airbrush to achieve the desired result.
Mark's collections also mirror specific topics. "My Emerald collection is based on memories from my youth, which I try to incorporate in abstract form. The Paper collection is present day things that happen to me, and my Frozen Time collection is more colour based."
In fact, many of the latter collection are influenced by views from the sky. It's not hard to find Mark on an aeroplane; he's the one at the back, snapping photographs through the window. A keen traveller, he's just returned from Australia so expect to see this reflected in future works!
"You would see a massive difference between my early work and today's," he says. "I still like my old stuff, but clients come to see me and see me progressing - if you paint every day, you're going to improve. You have to be ahead of the game the whole time; I wouldn't expect someone to buy something I wouldn't put on my own wall!"
Mark's reputation and back catalogue is the envy of every aspiring artist, but they may be surprised to learn that it's taken him just six years to achieve. "I can tell you exactly when I started - April 16 2002. I just decided to make that change," he says.
"Now I've done some 350 paintings - I produce 49 paintings every year, which is a number I seem to be comfortable with."
So what advice does he have for those endeavouring to follow in his footsteps? "Work hard. I work extremely hard, and you have to be a businessman as well. Confidence is everything".
And this is a sentiment that certainly comes across in his work. Hanging in private and public collections from Canada to Australia, Mark has painted all over the world and even been commissioned by Chelsea FC. An achievement indeed - we can only guess what the next six years might have in store.
For more information, contact Mark Paul Perry studios, tel: 020 8325 0094, and also see his work exhibited at Liberty Gallery (01732 522311) and the Bluemoon Gallery (01892 540100).