Growing up in the West Yorkshire coalfields, drawing since the age of four (I was one of those kids that never stopped!) then graduating in Fine Art at Leeds Polytechnic in '82, my promising career as a "young artist" was cut short during the previous recession by the closure of the “achingly trendy” post-punk London gallery I exhibited with. So I got a part-time teaching job at the art school of Chesterfield College, where 25 years later I still teach art and life-drawing, zipping backwards and forwards by bus or train.

Ten years ago I became a student again on a research MA at Nottingham Trent University (proudly gaining a Distinction) which began my interest in "accessible" new technologies, looking at where my mum came from - Lower Silesia in Sudetenland, then Germany, now Poland - the landscapes and portraits found via the internet, a project I'm still developing.

I also began a series of field trips as a kind of “training programme” in preparation for eventually going to Silesia, at first taking a full painting kit and easel on my back - too heavy - then just an iPad, drawing and painting whatever grabbed my eyes - landscapes, buildings and people…

The story of Mik’s work for First Art

So First Art gave me a map and asked me to do my “field trips” in their area. “Nice job” I thought - “do my work and get paid for it!”

I spent many hours on busses and trains in the region - both for commuting purposes and to stop off at places I’d spotted previously, fancying a closer look, or else to go wandering off to find other sketching spots in both town and country. I made use of the travelling time drawing fellow passengers or fleeting views outside as the bus moved by - some so fast that they’re almost abstract. Holding a smartphone on the bus (like nearly everyone else) doesn't shake too much, it moves with you, so it’s surprisingly easy to sketch people - you just have to be quick because you don’t know when they’ll get off.

I worked in my studio when the weather was bad, or I couldn’t spend the whole day out. First using Google Street View to look for locations to draw, then actually working from the stills I grabbed, I made several paintings and drawings - some very large - gradually creating a whole series of work, both digital and “real”. Many of these focused on a little country road called Hodmire Lane between Pleasley and Stainsby - they’re some of my favourite works.

Along the way, I posted some of the sketches on Facebook for people to see and had many, many responses from around the world: -

“I love looking at the fantastic life on the move sketches and pictures you do while on your travels - better than a visit to old Art Galleries any day.”

  • Respondent from Chesterfield

“There should be a “love it” button! That’s totally rad, Mik. Made my day. it’s wonderful….those bus trip drawings really paid off! confident, energetic, playful, keeps the eye moving and the mouth smiling….5 stars!!”

  • Respondent from Toronto

It’s nice when people “get” what you do - and I might be making this First Art region world famous :)

Mik Godley, March 2015

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