Michel Jackson Artist
Like a lot of those creative types who harboured notions of dedicating the fulcrum of their time to their chosen art, contemporary landscape artist, Mike Jackson thought his visions of one day becoming a full-time professional artist would remain just there, in his dreams, as a figment of an admittedly colourful imagination. But that’s before Joe Public clapped eyes on his bright, uplifting, feel-good creative compositions that have since gained Jackson a loyal following, and seen his star catapulted into the artistic ascendancy. Which is a good place to be as the artist himself concurs.
Born and raised in Manchester in 1962, Jackson thanks a large percentage of his childhood memories for furnishing him with the necessary creative tools to stretch his canvas magic across. The artist experienced a traditional Northern upbringing, the type that has kept comedian Peter Kay in jokes for the best part of a decade, and readily talks of the deep-seated, treasured, visually-attentive recollections that conjure up cherished mental images for anyone who’s ever experienced Blackpool and its archetypical donkey rides, end of pier shows and Mr Punch and Judy spectacles. Work in the recreational hazards of sand finding its way into your butties and enduring bingo sessions with ageing family members, and immediately Jackson’s face is beaming from ear to ear.
Jackson is a strong believer that a composition should comprise all the key components of the scene on which you’re looking out across as an artist. By that very token, if he’s painting a scene of a group of scallyways engaging in a spot of football, then the study should, aside from depicting the football, the inevitable jumpers for goal posts and said kids, muster the old lady metering out the generation-spanning, disgruntled riposte; something along the lines of ‘go and play around your own end’ in visual form. Whilst canine’s becoming amorous with one another and the ‘bin dipper’ collecting discarded cigarette butts should not be overlooked at the expense of a jaunty composition either, as it’s all indicative of the humour that’s etched through life. Indeed, Jackson muses that the celebration of such wonderful memories make the painting a far better place to live.
Now we’ve dispensed with the where and why, let’s reflect on the as yet unanswered how and when of Jackson’s all. And the first discovery we make is that he’s a self-educated artist; although did benefit from an early career spent in computer graphics, fettling with the graphic design industry’s beating heart, the Apple Macintosh. Shortly afterwards Jackson dedicated a further 12 years of his early career to the commercial art world, assuming the role, unsurprisingly, of a Graphic Designer.
Yet behind the computer graphic/design scene, Jackson was all the time expressing himself in a more orthodox and stripped back manner, honing his deliberate watercolour skills before side-stepping into the equally as expressive acrylic vortex. He practised these for a number of years, deploying the tried and tested formula of, well, trying and testing. Jackson believes that there’s no substitute for learning from your own mistakes, visual or otherwise, and wouldn't have had it any other way, insisting that the evolution of technique is better qualified this way.
Whilst we've laboured over Jackson’s childhood muses and pictorial starting points, actual artist inspirations aren't as forthcoming or as fulsome, with fellow North Country boy, Salford’s L S Lowry being the artist’s only real and succinct creative influence and bearing on his own direction. Referring back to Jackson’s delving into his mind to retrace his formative years so as to fire that imagination, this isn't always the case, as he informs us that a wealth of concepts derive from the mundane everyday. And whilst Jackson’s driving in particular, deliberating over quirky little images to paint. From that initial seed he tends to draw incalculable little sketches and then proceeds to develop a few of what he considers the leading lights, which then in turn become his original pieces we know and love.
As of 1999, Jackson upped sticks and relocated to Somerset, which has provided the artist with an even greater spread of visual stimulus on account of the rural and coastal splendour in which he finds himself a pivotal part of. Citing a real appreciation of the local beaches at his beck and call, Jackson says that the coastal scenery and coming and goings afford him an infinite source of reference points. Here he studies people in their holidaying element, with more than an occasional nod and wink to his own well documented early years, as he indulges his artistic quarry in the witnessing of holiday romances, beach bums, screaming kids high on candy floss (that last description being his description, not ours we hasten to add) and day-trippers, complete with the all-important buckets and spades, flasks of tea and carrier bags laden with soggy sandwiches.