The Artist

Shane Hyde

Personal Figurative Paintings


Born in Dudley 1973.

Studied Fine Art at Dudley College and Wolverhampton University.

Obsessed with life drawing, my early charcoals were initially compared to those of Van Gogh and Millet for the depictions of ordinary people.

Formative years were spent in the Black Country, an area of urban deprivation that made a deep impression upon me.

Unemployment dogged by twenties and mostly menial jobs.

Since 2009, i've lived in Norfolk but I couldnt say where my true home is anymore. Leaving the EU has intensified my sense of alienation from my country.

Q & A with Shane Hyde, 2012


1. Who are you and where are you from?


I was born in Dudley in 1973 to a what i later understood to be a dysfunctional family but back then it was considered normal. As a child I witnessed domestic violence by my father towards my mother and it was later directed towards myself. Until the age of seven I didn’t go to school or have a permanent home because me and mom were on the road to avoid harm. When we eventually settled into a council house, I started school and was shocked by the fact that children can be beastly. I was a pacifist and liked reading books and those are disqualifying characteristics in the macho world of young boys. I felt a sense of alienation and injustice from a very early age and I still do today. My formal education started late and I never felt part of school. Mostly I’ve educated myself. I was an underclass boy impressed by learning because I had so little.


2. How did you discover your artistic side?


I don’t remember a particular moment when I discovered my artistic side, I think it was always there working towards expression. When I was very young, my mother encouraged me to sketch wildlife. And later my grandfather taught me perspective drawing. My father was not artistic and showed no support for my interests. When I left school, while most of my friends did a YTS course, I chose to go to Dudley College to study Art, Design, Photography and Film. We had some great teachers, especially the history of photography classes. I made some good friends of a similar ilk. I was drilled in academic drawing and the idea of drawing as a scrutiny of a subject, as a struggle with its strangeness and resistances. I have respect for the immense skill and practice required to paint.

After that, I studied Product Design at Wolverhampton University but it was an awful course and I was at that point where I was questioning things about the world. I read Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek and it caused me to quit my degree. The next ten years were pretty bad, with failures in my personal relationships and in my attempt to find my way in the world. I kept notebooks and sketchbooks but unemployment featured regularly and nothing sends you into depression more. When I was lost, it was actually books that were a kind of salvation. The main ones were The Biographical Dictionary of Film (David Thomson) and The Ascent of Man (Jacob Bronowski). Without Thomson I wouldn’t have discovered Citizen Kane, La Regle de Jeu, Gertrud, Voyage to Italy, Lola Montes or Ugetsu Monogatari.

In 2005, whilst doing conservation work, I was asked to produce a mural for Dudley Zoo. I’d never attempted anything like this before. For 10 years afterwards I had regular commissions. Then in 2009 I met Catherine and moved to Norfolk and that’s when I produced my first landscape. I like solitude but sometimes feel too detached from the things that concern me. An artist should stay close to the things that pain them.


3. Tell us something about your work. How would you describe your style?


I taught myself to use oils in 2009 through reading Ralph Mayer and looking at the work of other artists. I have great respect for the traditional craftsmanship as practiced in Venice and by the Renaissance. Similar to Titian I’m a studio artist and take months over each painting, building up the layers and reworking. I’m not influenced by fashion or the work of my peers, I’m only interested in achieving a definite style that is my own and I’m still working towards that perfect expression of my feelings and thoughts. I think there isn’t an easy way to learn painting other than through the metres of canvas painted.

I’m an artist who depends on selling his work to survive and the hardest part is finding a balance between authenticity and market demand. I’m naturally melancholy, serious and dark and though that is essential to my personal paintings yet can make my landscape non-commercial. In the last few years landscapes have come to interest me. I’m currently working towards a style where the paintings have atmosphere and emotional weight purely through the style of painting and not through the subject painted.

When sales get low you think that your work is not good. It's very challenging being a self-representing artist. But once you pass those hurdles and remain confident in yourself as an artist then it all starts getting a little easier.

I often prostitute myself. I do things out of the need for money. Because without money I am powerless. Yet apparently an artist should never admit that they work for money, society has unrealistic expectations, they want us to be authentic, true to ourselves, to suffer and die for our art, whilst they live in luxury. Is it possible to be successful in the arts and still keep your soul?

I personally have to be true to myself, to my own feelings. When have other people ever influenced me anyway.


4. What / who inspires you?


The Norfolk landscape doesn’t greatly inspire me. What drives me to paint is my concerns about the world. Painting is my way of saying things that aren’t easy to talk about. I’ve considered several artistic mediums, and my first love is film, but painting is easier and more affordable and allows for the creation of images of provocation. My primary preoccupation is human self-destructiveness. The way that technological and social progress has left a trail of wreckage in it’s wake – the rape of the natural world; the inevitability of climate change; our enslavement to consumerism; the social problems that fail to be resolved. I’m also interested in the way that our culture and its institutions make each of us conform to a set of values that benefit those who run society more than those at the bottom. We think we are free but act like obedient servants who willingly accept and defend our imposed roles without ever questioning them. My paintings are an attempt to capture an equivalent on canvas. To create an image that has the power to convey the things that trouble me. Not so much to shock, but rather to be genuine and to obey the responsibility of the artist to describe what others would rather not know. Truth isn’t always what everyone wants to hear. The realities of life are uncomfortable but art is for those who would rather live without pipe dreams.


5. Do you go long stretches without painting?


Most of the time, I can keep painting pretty consistently. Sometimes it’s difficult to begin a new large canvas, but once I start, I always complete the work. Sometimes, I feel inspired to write instead of painting, in which case, I may go a few weeks without painting. Painting is physically tiring, so I may take a break for a while and do something else instead.


6. Who are your favourite artists and what makes them special for you?


I’m influenced by many things but in regards to paintings I admire the portraits of Raphael, Da Vinci, Titian, Durer and Rembrandt; the interiors of Hammershoi, Vermeer and Sickert; Goya’s war etchings; Schiele’s self-images of sexual distress; the moves towards abstraction in the landscapes of Turner, Monet, Whistler, Constable and Hopper; and a kinship with some of the ideas of Rothko and Picasso. If only I could paint as well as these people. Very little of contemporary art interests me. Of living painters perhaps Anselm Kiefer, Fernando Botero and Paula Rego. Most of today’s art has become decadent, self-indulgent, disposable and reached a dead end.

I feel more of a kinship with some writers, journalists, filmmakers.


7. Do you have any words of inspiration to other artists and aspiring artists?


I don't consider myself a success but I would say to never compromise your art. To read and experience all that you can. Keep an open mind. Don’t think of landscapes and portraits as old fashioned and irrelevant. When opportunity knocks, don’t say no. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Don’t settle on one idea or one style. Forget what all your teachers told you and just start figuring out things for yourself. And realize that there’s no such thing as quick fame or quick money. The greatest difficulty as an artist is staying the course and allowing myself to enjoy the moment and the process.

Shane Hyde is a British Figurative and Landscape Artist. Born in Dudley. His work is a personal and authentic expression of environmental and social concerns. They are dark, intense and vivid pieces of contemporary resonance.

First Contact :