Mayes is probably best known for his landscapes. But in 2011 his work took a different turn when he engrossed himself in the whole spectrum of wildlife and the changing seasons in and around Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire, which has inspired a number of artists notably Turner. In addition to refocusing his subject matter, Mayes also invested in honing his skills as a printmaker and in concentrating on his drawing. The result is a series of 14 pieces depicting birds and mammals in a variety of settings at different seasons.
In The Nervous Buck (above), he captures an anxious, alert beast that is ready to run. Alongside it is a drawing of The Proud Stag, who is far from ready for flight, stares straight ahead, his magnificent antlers fully displayed. Another pairing is of prints of The Pouncing Fox and The Leaping Fox, both dry-point prints. In the former the fox’s body takes on a parabola shape as Mayes skilfully captures the power of the propulsion that has elevated it. In the latter, Mayes catches propulsion of a different kind as the fox streams out of the undergrowth filling the picture with his sleek body and bushy tail. Mayes has also executed a charming series of portraits of birds, some in oil on paper, some as dry-point prints.
The exhibition is at the Sarah Wiseman Gallery until March 31 2012 and it is open Monday to Saturday. Anne James.
Artists & I l l u s t r a t o r s
To the rolling fields of the Yorkshire Dales for the work of 35 year-old painter Emerson Mayes. Despite being represented by a number of London galleries, Mayes continues to work within a five-mile radius of his Nidderdale home, such is his love for the area in which he was born and bred. 'It's about finding that emotional response, not just the physical act,' he explains. 'It's walking that very thin line between representing what is there and representing it in a painterly way.'
It is this balance that he achieves that makes his work worth a thousand photographs and also an inspiration to us all. 'If you don't appreciate landscape painting, hopefully you will appreciate how I'v actually put the paint down and the joy I get from that alone!' Steve Pill (Deputy-Editor) October 2007
Born in Harrogate and trained at Leeds Metropolitan University, 35 year old Emerson Mayes has made a growing reputation for himself over the last decade or so with his freshly coloured and immensely painterly approach to landscape. Working for the most part in front of the image (with some finishing touches added later in the studio), these studies of moorland hills and rivers are full of an unfussy truthfulness of feeling.
Nicholas Usherwood reviewing Maclean Fine Art solo show in 2007
YORKSHIRE POST The Artist at work series.
HIS work is his art and he paints because he loves it - but it also helps that people like to spend money on it. Emerson Mayes has experienced that rarest of things: success both critical and commercial since beginning his career as an artist. Since the 32-year-old graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University in 1994 with a BA Hons in Graphic Arts, he has enjoyed a growing reputation for a fresh, honest and uncontrived approach to his work.
"I have been fortunate that the work I paint seems to sell," says Mayes, who takes an uncomplicated attitude to most things, not just the creation of his work. "I would never change the way I paint for commercial reasons; when I am painting I forget about that kind of thing and just paint in the hope of creating decent work. I paint and leave it up to the public to decide if they like it."
The Yorkshireman is often asked why he does not travel to places like France and Italy to paint his landscapes, but he is happiest at home. Almost all of his work is grounded in his home county. "I loveNidderdale plus places like Upper and Lower Wharfedale, I love the east coast, I don't really see the need to travel further afield. The important thing to me when I am painting a landscape is that I feel an emotional connection with it and Yorkshire is a place to which I have an emotional connection."
Winning the Young Artist of the Year Award in 1995 - something he says was "obviously a help to his career" - marked Mayes's arrival and he has gone on to win a number of other awards since. He exhibits around the country, although has a permanent exhibition at The Gascoigne Gallery at Royal Parade, Harrogate, where he recently staged an exhibition which again was a critical success that pulled in the punters, "Selling the work is secondary, but we all have bills to pay," added Mayes.