I’m often asked why I favour a square canvas, especially when I paint portraits and landscapes. Each of these usually gives the descriptive term to the shape of canvas I should be using. However, for me there is something much more familiar about a square, balanced, strong and never-ending.

The only other member of my family to paint was my paternal Grandfather – Stanley Abbott. His foray into paint was a late in life affair. After years of hard work managing coal mines he picked up brushes on his retirement and created six matching paintings of ships in harbour for all of his children. My Father’s hangs in his home to this day and one day I shall bring it to mine.

My artistic journey began much earlier in my life but not before Stanley had moved on, so he never got to see my work, he didn’t know I jacked in my proper job and followed my heart. As is customary I was allowed to choose, on his death, something to remind me of him. From his garage I chose his perfectly sound 2 foot ‘Rabone’ folding wooden ruler. Marked only in inches it was this tool I reached for when I started making stretchers and canvasses. I use wood found in skips during my early and penniless days as an artist and nothing was ever made bigger than 24 inches.

Today my dog portraits are still ruled by this inheritance, the metric comparison of 60cm is my most used canvas. I’d love the chance to tell Stanley all about this – but just perhaps he already knows.


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