With the beauty of a subtropical Cornish coastline driving his creativity, Falmouth-based artist John Dyer has to ‘live it to paint it’. Words: Madeleine Barber

Painting can be a perilous profession. Runaway cars, circling sharks and even pointy-fingered lemurs have left their mark on John Dyer’s canvas from time to time. Yet it’s this knack for embracing challenging surroundings and whatever the world throws at him that brings his paintings to life. John discovered his skills with a paintbrush on a trip to the Amazon in 1989: ‘I went as a photographer but returned to the UK as a painter,’ he says.

John doesn’t shy away from colours. His brushwork is packed with bright blues, reds, pinks, greens and yellows that are explosive in both colour and inspiration. His iconic painting of the Falmouth to Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta motivated 1,300 children to engage with art in a creative competition. The artwork is busy and bustling with majestic ships making their way across the canvas, onlookers cheering with joy.

His other paintings are inspired by the tranquillity of the Cornish coast, as John explains, ‘Cornwall has that wow factor because of its variety of locations – the differences between the north and south, and the influence the Gulf Stream has had with sub-tropical plants’. He adds that ‘the vivid intense light, blue skies and turquoise sea really is a paradise, and my paintings are my Vision of Paradise.’

There is something magical and idyllic about John’s artwork, the tropical inspiration gained from banana plants and palm trees in his beachside back garden shining through. When asked, ‘Why here?’, he replies, ‘Cornwall allows creativity to flourish and that’s why I choose to live and work here.’

Painting ‘en plein air’ (in the open air), John has always felt a particular draw to the sun, the sea and the sand, all areas filling him with creative ideas. He has a strong fondness for painting in the South West, saying with confidence, ‘If I had to pick just one location on planet earth to paint my last painting, it would be the Tresco Abbey Garden – no contest.’ The garden houses thousands of exotic plants, which you can spot in many of John’s colourful works of art. He has a dynamic talent for translating their subtropical energy from real life to canvas, and finally explains that this is key to his creative process: ‘I find the visual energy I get from watching the beauty of the world around me is an essential part of being alive. It’s vital. This is why I paint – it’s an expression of my soul.’

The Gallery

To see more of John’s work, visit his website at johndyergallery.co.uk. You can browse collections of paintings, prints, ceramics, books and posters by either him, his wife Joanne Short, or his father, Ted Dyer, which can all be bought online. Visiting his gallery in Falmouth is by appointment only. Call 07773 397503 or contact him via the website enquiry form. New collections of work can be viewed around Easter, the summer months and Christmas.

The John Dyer Gallery, PO Box 285, Falmouth TR11 9AD.