In the Studio with Leo Davey

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8In our upcoming Spring Exhibition at Churchgate Gallery Porlock, we will be showing some new oil paintings by Leo Davey. We visited Leo in his Minehead studio to ask him about his work, and find out more about what inspires him.

Leo has become well established with his detailed illustrative watercolours, however his latest work sees him branching out into different
media, creating expressive landscape paintings that are remarkably different from his previous work.

Leo discussed with us the differences between this new work and his watercolours-


9“My illustration and graphic work is meant for reproduction in print, so texture and surface are not so important and would get lost in translation. My oils are not meant for reproduction – I think they would reproduce well but that is not their purpose. They change as you move past them, small shadows are cast from thickly applied paint, some areas reflect light whereas others absorb”

However, despite the challenges of working in a new medium, the overriding aspects that create a successful painting are the same, “Balance of colour and tone, and quality of mark”.

This recent experimentation comes after nearly twenty years of exploring watercolour as a medium. Becoming an artist was a natural career path for Leo to take, coming from a family of artists (Both of his parents and and his sister are Artists.) “We were always encouraged to keep sketch books and we’d regularly visit galleries and exhibitions from a very early age.”

Leo went on to study Illustration at Falmouth College of Art, and after a decade of regular exhibitions alongside his illustration and graphics work, and a growing reputation, Leo became a full time artist in 2009, working from his studio/gallery in


12The inspiration for much of Leo’s work comes from the local landscape. “I have a passion for birds and the outdoors. I run a lot which enables me to see much of our wonderful country side and wild life. I will often go back to places that I have run through to take in the place in greater depth.”

His passion for the local flora and fauna is particularly evident when talking about his favourite places, his most recent discovery being Dunster Beach-

“My reason for liking this location is not only to do with it’s beauty but also it’s rich bird life. Shelducks, Wigeon, Teal, Siskins, Goldfinches and Oyster Catchers to name but a few, but my favorite sighting is a Kingfisher that I see almost every time I go. I once sat for 15 minutes watching it dipping in and out of the lake behind the chalets before it disappeared.”

11Rather than working directly from life, which has its limitations, Leo uses photographs as a starting point for his paintings. This approach allows him to capture places, objects and wildlife in the moment and then come back to it at a later date.

“I always carry a camera, just a small digital Canon that I can pop in my pocket. Anything that interests me, be it a shop front or a weather front – I photograph it. These photos will sit on my computer for months or even years until I discover or rediscover them.”

Despite this, Leo’s intention is never to create a ‘photographic’ painting, instead he sees the photo as a starting point, from which a painting can develop.

“Starting a painting I refer a lot to the photo but as the painting develops I refer to it less and less and respond more to the painting itself.”


Leo is an artist whose work is constantly evolving, and his latest work, which he sees as “a continuation of a style that will continue to develop in subject, medium and aesthetic.” gives an exciting insight into where his work is heading. For Leo, this constant exploration of different styles and media is a natural rather than planned process.

I’m always too involved in what I am currently working on to be thinking about what I am going to do. I’ll know how my work will develop as and when I’m doing it. I would like to work on a larger scale but my studio is a little restrictive in size. We’ll see!!”

You will be able to see some of Leo Davey’s latest oil paintings in our upcoming Spring Exhibition, from the 29th March to the 25th April.

For more information about Leo’s work, you can visit his website at

Originally posted February 25th 2015

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