Lovatt Fine Art Prints shows a range of the artworks that I have produced...
Acrylic paintings, watercolour paintings, mixed media, pen and ink drawing and a combination of all of those in one picture!
I am Jonathan Lovatt Ingram, a trained artist living in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. I studied at St. Martins and then got swept up in domestic bliss. My 'Biography' section further down this page goes into more depth about how I got to where I am now.
In trying to avoid anything cliched, and having spent some time as a freelance commercial artist, I still the creative freedom of being able to create whatever I want, when I want to. The technical side of art is important to me, I was trained to draw on my Foundation course at Colchester School of Art and believe it to be the foundation of all good visual art. I am interested in the technical side because it liberates the creative spirit. I have taught art for 25 years and still do.
The surreal and unusual interests me most and this is reflected in the pages of Surrealist paintings and drawings.
(If you are interested, there is an 'Artist's Biography' just down the page and for picture info. hover your mouse over the
When I was 8 or 9 years old something magical happened to me. I copied a black and white picture of Fred Flintstone and it looked exactly (to my young eyes) like the original. Wow! I couldn't believe it, I'd done a drawing that looked like a real cartoon character. I was thrilled and excited and hooked on drawing. I drew obsessively – soldiers, cowboys and indians, footballers, then racing cars and street cars. I loved it. I read all the comics - Superman, Batman etc.‘Mad magazine’ was my bible (I still identify with Alfred E Neuman - ‘What, me worry?’ - was his mantra); within it’s pages some excellent American cartoonists plied their trade and influenced me. Then ‘Hot Rod magazine’ - those crazy cars in a glossy, sunlit world a million miles from my grungy life in rural Essex.
MAD MAGAZINE - ALFRED.E NEUMAN
HOT ROD MAGAZINE
'THE HANDS' - PAUL DELVAUX
PAINTING BY JEAN ARP - DADAIST
MAD MAGAZINE - ALFRED.E NEUMAN
I liked to look 'A concise history of modern painting' – a book of my mother's. What grabbed me was the Paul Delvaux image 'The hands' – I was a pubescent boy and loved to look at that picture. But then I started looking at the other pictures in the book and was fascinated by their strangeness and visual richness. The names: Wols, Hans Hartung, Soulages, and the images – strange, exotic, fascinating; Paul Klee, Max Ernst and others just blew me away. A book on Dada from the King Edward VI library enthralled me – happenings, anti-art, Hans Arp, whose shapes looked freaky and contemporary. After all, this was the swinging, groovy 60s – when I was lucky enough to be growing up.
Having read about Pete Townsend's fascination with auto-destruction in the (then) thriving music press I was fascinated by the new directions that were developing, along with myself, in the 1960s. Op Art, Pop Art, rock music, – the vibe was exciting and most of the best rock stars had been to art school. Yeeeeah! That was IT!
I ditched the model cars, Hot Rod Magazine, soap box carts and detailed drawings of dragsters taking off amidst clouds of tyre smoke, and got heavily into the whole art vibe. I loved the avant-garde, happenings and so forth. I became friendly with the great Neo-Dadaist, Concrete poet and all round thoroughly good bloke, Henri Chopin and we (members of the Chelmsford Arts Lab and assorted hippies) stayed at his place one weekend for 2 days of avant-garde craziness. Liquid light shows on rock bands were something I loved to do as well; but I also was developing a real affinity with traditional drawing – I became fascinated by the Renaissance. This duality has always made it difficult for me to focus exclusively on one style.
We all had rapidograph pens for technical drawing and I, along with several others at KEGS, would use our pens for cartooning and drawing in general. My dear lifelong friend Mark, reminded me recently of how he used to like my pen drawings – support like that is so important.
PSYCHEDELIC LIGHT SHOW
HENRI CHOPI - POETRIE CONCRETE
BACCHUS AND ARIADNE - TITIAN
Unlike my dear, and lifelong, friend Pete (we were both due to go to Colchester Art School at the same time) I fluffed my GCEs and went to Dovedales College of FE to retake them. The freedom was intoxicating; I could grow my hair, wear my freaky clothes and go to the pub at lunchtime. It was great. At this point I hooked up with another great lifelong friend, Brian who got me involved in the Chelmsford Arts Lab – which was an air raid shelter in Gallywood where we hung out, played music, smoked dope and did the other freaky things that people did back in the 60s – it was great!! I was reading Oz magazine, a counter-culture essential. This was when I started doing light shows – coloured liquids and slides etc projected behind bands. Dovedales had a large white wall at the back of the gym where the bands played and it was a great place to project onto. My dear, departed mate Paul, an ex-junkie once used some of his blood in one of our lightshows!
NODDY PAINTING DONE AS A TEENAGER
AXIS BOLD AS LOVE- THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
OZ MAGAZINE WITH MARTIN SHARP DYLAN GRAPHIC
I started this large painting of Noddy surrounded by threatening and psychedelic images. I painted it in gouache (I love the smell of gouache) and every time I painted I listened to 'Axis Bold As Love' by The Jimi Hendrix Experience; I listened to that because it was one of the only records we had (I had persuaded my sister to buy it because all my money was frittered on cigs, booze etc...) I was and still am, a huge Hendrix fan and I love that record!! I was having fun but was not very happy in myself. Typical adolescent angst, maybe... My father, to whom I had been very close, was away a lot, my mate Paul had moved in and the house was hippy central. My dad, when he was at home, hated it. I was solemnly told by my mother that he didn't like me very much. My mum, however, thought it was a hoot! There were roaches in the driveway, somehow a pair of girls tights ended up on the telephone wire above the house and I was told that the police had the place under surveillance. My folks went away in the summer and Brian being a few years older, (he was, and still is the same marvelous mix of joyously bonkers whilst also being very shrewd and clever ) was put in charge. It was suitably crazy, including doing the washing up in the washing machine. Sometimes I longed for a 'normal' existence, but on the face of it I was lucky because I could do whatever I wanted, when I wanted and I was 15. And on one level, yes, it was great. Every now and then my mother would become motherly, but she would soon get bored with that and lose interest - far more fun to be 'one of the gang'. I found this inconsistency confusing, depressing and soul destroying. Perhaps that's why I have never been able to settle into a fixed style. I had always been very creative – when I was 8 or 9 I did a huge drawing of a Halifax bomber by sticking another piece of paper on when I got to the edge of the current one, I made a meticulously detailed plasticine dragster – I did all sorts of stuff and my parents, bless 'em, regarded me as a freak. 'Hmmm...interesting.' they would say and give me a quizzical look as if I had just disembarked from a silver saucer that had landed in the garden. (One of the great things that my parents gave me was a template of how not to bring up children; that is,we did the exact opposite of what my parents did and, thank God, my kids have all turned out very well with none of the psychological problems that I have!)
After a wild and crazy year at Dovedales in Chelmsford I went to Colchester School of Art. The first and most important thing that we did there was draw boxes; white boxes, white boxes in a predominantly white studio. At the time they said, to the disgruntled ones (not me!), that it was the best thing that they would ever do...and it was.
It taught us to look, taught us to see, to actually see what was in front of us, NOT what our brain was telling us was there (to an untrained eye they are different, in that we have a head full of what we 'think' that things look like, depending upon our emotional impression of them. Once you train the eyes to actually see what is there - by doing things like drawing white boxes, trying to draw the NEGATIVE space around a complex set of objects, show the form of a figure by drawing stripes projected onto that figure – the world becomes a very different space, a different place. I vividly recall starting to actually see things, like a cup and saucer, for the first time. I said to myself: 'Blimey! Is that what a cup and saucer really look like! Bloody hell!' and I also went: 'Wow!'.
It was wonderful.
NUDE DRAWN AT COLCHESTER ART SCHOOL
SQUARING UP PROJECT DONE AT COLCHESTER
PAINTING BY RENE MAGRITTE
Being fired up and enthusiastic I drew incessantly. We did our first creative project. It was to produce a painting, a sculpture and a collage – all on the same theme. Being a fan of Magritte I produced a painting of the profile of a Magritte type man's head looking at a skull which had the facial musculature showing. The speech bubble coming from his mouth said: 'Mmmm...'. The collage and plaster sculpture were different versions of this image. The man was Mr. Smith, my alter-ego at the time.
I worked hard on the project, got it finished in time and was dead chuffed with the result. And then came the crit...
A pleasant, quiet, lad called Chris who was, in the venacular of the day, very 'straight' looking ie short hair, grey flannels, sensible shoes, tweed jacket and tie, produced 3 unfinished, and to my eyes scrappy looking pieces – the main one being sculpture was a giant thumb. The tutors loved it. They raved about. They really liked it. Mine was damned with faint praise...I was really upset and disillusioned.
(In the second year of Foundation, Chris came out as being gay and got into Chelsea school of Art. I don't know whether his thumb/penis sculpture helped with his application. Good luck to him anyway, he was a good bloke.)
Having never had any real praise for my work from my parents, who were quite indifferent, apart from my mother seeing her vague artistic pretensions reflected in me, I had no psychological buffer to help me cope with what was a minor setback. One thing that an artist needs is a cast-iron ego. Art is a very tough business indeed, contrary to what a lot of people think; it is mentally tough and to succeed you must be bullet-proof in the head. Anyway, the whole business lost it's magic for me and at the end of the academic year I quit. I think that I had some vague idea about being a reporter. It was a good job though, because I would probably not have met my wife had I stayed on...
Having grown disillusioned with art school and got fed up doing 'A' level English, Sociology and something else at Dovedales College in Chelmsford (where I first met my future wife Lauren) I went walkabout – I was a basement porter at the Grand Hotel in Folkestone, a community service volunteer at St Georges community centre in Aberdeen, an art teacher in a special school in Chigwell and a freewheeler, hitching up and down the highways and byways of our fair land. Then I decided that it was back to art school so I bade au revoir to my girlfriend Rose in Aberdeen and returned home to find my sister pregnant and a wedding in the offing.
Colchester took me back to do a second year of foundation (you could one or two years), my wife and I finally got together at a party in Danbury - on the day that I'd vowed to give up chasing women (that is a long story... maybe another time) - and I resumed my art studies. I spent most of this time stoned, every lunchtime 5 or 6 of us would troop up to the tussocky fields behind the college, often with a hookah, park up behind a bush and get thoroughly ripped. My friends would then drag me back to the studio, up the stairs, sit down at my easel and stick a paintbrush in my hand and tell me to paint.
I had palled up with a guy called Neal, who is now I believe, sadly deceased and we encouraged and supported one another and both were accepted by the august establishment of St.Martins school of art to study for an Honours Degree in Fine Art.
GILLIAN AYRES WITH HER ABSTRACTS
PAINTING BY HENRY MUNDY
ALBERT HERBERT FIGURATIVE WORK
Blimey! I was a basically a figurative painting with strongly surrealist tendencies and on our first day in Charing Cross Road we had our first lesson: this consisted of the late, and in her own way great, Gillian Ayres and various other lecturers spreading a large canvas on the floor and encouraging us to do some action painting. I hated it.
The good thing about St.Martins then was that our individuality was accepted and best efforts were made to cater for it. There was a big debate going on between the Colour field painters led by Ms Ayres and her husband (possibly ex by then) Henty Mundy – she was generally accompanied by a young lecturer called Gareth and the figurative ones. The course leader, Albert Herbert, was a figurative painter – a member of the Euston School and that helped balance things out.
At St.Martins they were very interested in two things: firstly the idea of 'being' an artist – this is very relevant now. The idea was that you 'were' an artist or you 'were not' – it was an existential thing. This is particularly relevant now with the advent of media-savvy art celebrities; regardless of the quality of their work their very existence on the planet media assures it of a very high status. The idea which I held in high regard, the Steppenwolf syndrome (if you've not read Hesse's wonderful book, it's about an outsider with outlandish dreams and schemes who lives a perfectly normal bourgeois life – Rene Magritte, an early hero of mine, is good example of this) was dismissed as irrelevant.
Then poor Neal cracked up. This immediately gave him massive kudos, because he was 'real' – he was suffering for his art and so on. What this meant, in practical terms for me, was that all anyone ever wanted to talk to me about was Neal. I was, as I tend to, quietly beavering away trying to get my shit together and every tutor and his dog just wanted to know how Neal was doing. Once again I got disillusioned.
Second thing that were very interested in at St.Martins was symbolism. There analysis was basic Freud – trying discern phallic symbols in the work, symbols for the vagina and so on. This was good – it made you very conscious of what you painting and if you could still paint with that knowledge you were a better painter, I believe.
Anyway my second year coincided with my general disgust at the whole business, but, heeding the only bit of advice that my father evr gave me, I decided to stick it out and somehow get my degree. Poor Neal was off in some weird orbit of his own and eventually people forgot about him. I was subsequently told that the only reason I was accepted was that they thought that Neal and I might be the next Gilbert and George – ex St.Martins alumni.
So I decided to stop painting and start writing poetry and to St. Martins's great credit (Freddie Gore was the leader of Fine Art so maybe to his great credit) that was accepted and they did their best to cater for it...
HEAVY METAL SCIENCE FANTASY MAGAZINE
SPACESHIP BY ILLUSTRATOR TIM WHITE
As with KEGS it was the fact that I'd attended this reasonably august institution, rather than the actual experience of attending, it that benefitted me.
At the end of 3 years I had a BA (Hons) 2:1 (It would have been a first, but apparently I'd upset too many people!), a wife and a house. I am proud to say that my wife and I are still happily married and I have another very pleasant house (small, but well located) in the North of England.
St. Martins was not good for me, at the end I was so disgusted with the whole art scene/business – which seemed full of egotistical opportunists, phonies and shitbags - that I gave up art completely and became a trainee negotiatior for Bairstow Eves Estate Agents at their Hornchurch branch. It's still there. At first I loved it. I wore a smart suit, was able to drive nice cars, see some impressive houses and learn how to be a streetwise. When you sell houses in Essex you come across a lot of people from the East End of London and those people are sharp: you quickly learn to have your wits about you at all times and ALWAYS think before you speak. I found it difficult at first. I had been an archetypal dippy-hippy and this was, to coin a phrase, a baptism of fire. But I'm a very fast learner (about my only real talent!) and soon adapted.
Gradually I got fed up 'the house game' – as it was known. I tried selling graphic equipment in London, but that soon palled. Problem was: I could sell igloos to Eskimos, I was a really good salesman, but not sufficiently interested in money and status to make it work. In the end I couldn't see the point. With graphic equipment sales I failed to see why I should sell someone a new drawing borad when they had a perfectly good old one. I went back to houses, at least that had a constructive purpose while we thrashed around looking for clues as to where we fitted in. By that time we had 2 lovely children and I could have been all set for a successful, if modestly so, career as an Estate Agent.
I taught myself photography, but found it's creative scope limiting (my fault, there is some extremely creative photography) and generally flapped about trying to find a direction that appealed to me. I should say 'us' because my wife Lauren was also feeling unsettled.
A word now about selling: on one level selling is great. You can actually make your own luck as a salesman (I have blogged about luck, it's a fascinating subject) and the fact that I was an extremely good salesman gave me the one thing that I'd never had before: confidence. Without it you can't really achieve much, in my opinion.
We were going to Germany where I was going to be a photographer (!), or buy a houseboat, or buy a business, or emigrate to the states. Then I discovered science fiction and science fiction artwork - meticulously painted, stunning graphics a million miles from my domestic commitments and estate agent's office with it's cork tiled walls, smart desks, filing cabinets which gave you a shock and, in some offices, a coffee machine. (I'm not knocking it, I liked it, up to a point. I've never been a fan of grungy environments.)
Anyway, one afternoon, I sitting on my own in the Braintree office of RJ Lester and Sons. We'd had a good day and I was really just waiting to phone in our sales figures then lock up, when I started doodling on the blotter on my desk. A light went back on in my head and I started drawing again.
Some time, and some changes later, I was on my way to London with a portfolio of acrylic science fiction/fantasy paintings trying to establish myself as a freelance book jacket illustrator. My loyal, long suffering wife was on board with it and a new chapter had begun.