Artist Life: John Scott Martin

Artist Life: John Scott Martin


We are all inherently nosy. We want to know how other artists and printmakers work, what their studios look like and glean any top tips learnt through years of trial and error. We want to share our life struggles and successes, awards and knock backs.

We want to know what keeps you going in your artist life – strong coffee, determination or simply giving yourself a good talking to. Do you work best at night-time or first thing in the morning? Do you have a favourite chair or a lucky brush.

John Scott Martin – share your Artist Life with Pegasus Art.

John Scott Martin - tutor and painter
John Scott Martin

John is a practising painter and printer. He is new to Pegasus Art in 2020, tutoring two day workshops for us. He ended a long career in graphics, printing, photography and design management to return to his first love. John is well known for his images of Cornwall, the mining landscape and nautical scenes.

Past commissions include work for the National Trust and he has taken every opportunity to head below ground to document the mining imagery of West Cornwall. Inspired by classic yachts, sailing barges and ships – he works in oils, acrylics, watercolour, pastels and inks. As an artist and printer he exhibits and sells mixed media linocuts and paintings with no less than ten galleries. John occasionally writes for The Artist

Elena at the Regate Royale in Cannes by John Scott-Martin
Elena at the Regates Royale in Cannes by John Scott Martin

What is your regular painting practice? Do you paint or draw every day?

Yes, I paint, draw or work as a printmaker every day. If more than two or three days go by without working I get withdrawal symptoms. I have the benefit of a purpose designed studio, so working conditions are excellent.

Are you a trained artist or self taught and do you think that matters?

I trained at the Nottingham College of Art for five years. Graduating with an NDD in graphics and printmaking. I know of some brilliant self taught artists and printmakers. But without a degree and would not have been able to teach in schools nor be and art and design examiner.

John Scott-Martin featured in The Artist magazine.
John Scott Martin featured in The Artist magazine.

Are you part of a painting group? Do you have mentors or people who help and advise you?

I am a permanent tutor to a local group. I help them in whichever medium they are using. I advise them on colour mixing, perspective, composition, figure drawing and most importantly the use of tone.

How do you fit painting in around family life? Do you work in a day job alongside life as a painter?

My children and grandchildren all live some distance away, my son and family live in Denmark. As I have been self employed for more than 30 years I am used to working alone.

What really inspires you?

As a marine artist obviously the sea and ships. I need to smell the sea after a time so living in central England the sea is always calling me. Light and weather never unchanging and to be observed. Since I was a boy and art student, mines mining and miners.

Levant mine by John Scott-Martin
Levant Mine by John Scott Martin

Tell us which materials you favour and why?

Oil Paints : Old Holland for opacity and depth of colour

Watercolour and Gouache : Winsor & Newton

Pastel : Unison a British brand

Do you have a favourite artists tool?

If it does what I want in terms of mark making. One good brush perhaps a No. 4 will do most of what I want to do. Or if it makes the right mark, anything…. even a sharp stick will do.

As the saying goes, ‘It’s never too late.’ What advise do you have for people who want to take up painting in later life?

If you want to paint, buy some good materials and keep practicing. Don’t expect to get to far to quickly. Have patience.

How did you make the leap to become a professional artist? What made a difference to you?

Having spent over thirty years in Graphics, Design Management And Art Direction it was time to do what I always wanted to do. Paint and printmake. I had always needed to draw, but had to teach myself to paint.

Luggers of Mousehole by John Scott Martin
Luggers of Mousehole by John Scott Martin

Who was your greatest art influence – teacher, famous artist….

I have a large number of art related books in my studio. From time to time I will take one down and often realise what it takes to excel. I’m not really influenced by other artists and find that I have to do things my way, particularly regarding techniques.

Do you enter painting competitions?

Yes, I enter my work into Open Exhibitions.

What are you working on now?

Yet another marine seascape….see below!

Marine scape by John Scott Martin.

What has been your biggest success as a painter?

To find that some people like my work enough to spend their money in buying it!

What is the single best piece of advice you can give to another artist?

If you feel inspired to try and portray a subject no matter how challenging don’t give up. Have patience and with practice you will succeed.

Join John for one of his workshops at Pegasus Art

Linocut & Collage Landscape workshop

5th & 6th June – 2 day workshop

£140 Book online.

Going About by John Scott Martin
Going About by John Scott Martin

Marine Scenes in watercolour and gouache

Saturday 4th July

£70 Book online.

Sailing Past by John Scott Martin
Sailing Past by John Scott Martin in watercolour and gouache

For more information about John, head to his website here.