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Summer 2016

Barrow’s Kipper brought to life!

A Plesiosaur for the digital age! This arresting drawing of Barrow’s Kipper, swimming in a Mesozoic sea at least 65 million years ago, was created by talented local artist, John Walton, using a pressure pen on a graphics-pad. A new form of art picturing the truly ancient! For those not familiar with a graphics-pad drawing on one is strange: you use a special pressure pen on a plain black block connected to your computer. You draw on the black block, but look up to your screen to see what you’ve achieved. Pads pose no problems at all for John - he’s as completely at home with this technique as he is with plesiosaurs and art itself.

Earlier this year the picture below only took him about three days to complete. He very much enjoys using this medium as he finds it quick and getting colour right is straightforward. It’s possible to add layers to give depth or shade and also to make changes quickly if you decide you’ve made an error. You can delete! Far from the case when using oils or water colours. Nobody could know our Kipper better than John. As part of his B.Sc. in Media Production at De Montfort University, he produced a 14,000-word dissertation on the Plesiosaur and a twelve-minute film. This was in 2012. He told me that had he not studied Media it would have been Palaeontology. Impressively he knows the fauna of the period so well he draws them from memory - not one of the beasties in the picture was copied from a book. Yet he did admit that he used creative licence over the colouring.

John had always enjoyed art at school, taking Art, Media and Film at A level, and before that as a hobby. The family sign-writing business was helpful too. He said that he’d learnt a lot from his grandfather - an earlier John Walton - especially in relation to perspective. The family had a sign-writing business and an example of his grandfather’s work, a Timeline, is still to be seen at Loughborough’s Great Central Railway.

Although ‘young’ John Walton our Kipper artist was born in Leicester, his family moved to Loughborough when he was a child and then to Barrow. Now he’s very happy here with his wife, Rachel, and a home in Breadcroft Lane with Mum just across the road! But, what about the future? How does this young man of 24 see life in the years ahead? Could becoming a professional artist be a realistic ambition? At present these thoughts are just a dream and he’ll certainly be keeping his day job in software support to Leicester’s schools. But who knows? One day he may be the illustrator of the dinosaur book you’ve just bought your child from Waterstones.

Gaynor Barton