Former coal miner Joe Scarborough brings a sense of theatre to his vibrant pieces, which are inspired by Impressionism and the drama of real life.
Born in Sheffield in 1938 to a poor family, Joe began to create art as a child – scribbling on the back of reports his steelworker father brought home from work. The vivid colours and lively scenes of surrounding advertising posters offered a glimpse into a happy and exciting world – something that would follow him into his adult life.
After years spent working in the coal mines, he held his first solo art show at the age of 26. Joe quickly made a name for himself with his multicoloured paintings, which feature anonymous four-inch figures and scenes inspired by the 1950s and 60s. Since then, he has exhibited at Museums Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University, and in 2008 was awarded a star on Sheffield’s ‘Walk of Fame’.
To create his energetic pieces, Joe first paints the canvas orange – which Impressionist masters like Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir did to create movement. He then sketches in the figures with a pencil, holding it similarly to a screwdriver. Raw umber is applied, before dark lines are added once the paint is dry.
Joe says: “The colours are like dancers: they all want to be seen. My art is based on repertory theatre and the drama of real life. I set my characters in vistas my audience will enjoy, and I always want to put on a good show.”
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