The Wildlife Painter

Soon after I started my 5 year apprenticeship as a lithographic artist in Reading designing biscuit tins and tea caddies for Huntley and Palmers, a new artist arrived on the scene. His name was Vic Granger and was, at the time, my artistic hero. Vic, was a journeyman designer. Not only was he a really good artist and designer, his sense of humour was terrific and we conspired in numerous japes at the expense of an unsuspecting head artist (who’s claim to fame was that he’d been stationed in Egypt during the war, which resulted in him constantly referring to his feet and showing everyone his‘desert rot’).
After a few years Vic and I decided to form a small company and called it GMG Design Partners - G for Granger, M for Mundy and the remaining G for Ruth Granger (Ruth, Vic’s wife was also an accomplished artist).
But, after a 2 year spell in Singapore performing my National Service as a cartographer during the Malayan Emergency, when I returned to England and completed my apprenticeship the lure of the East was so strong that we put GMG on hold while I gained experience in advertising by taking up a 3 year contract as an Art Director in Singapore. And the East was where I stayed for nearly 20 years. Vic remarried after a few years and moved to a little village in Norfolk where he took up fine art full-time, specialising in painting greyhounds, whippets, horses and wildlife.
When I returned to live in England in 1978 each spring I spent a long weekend with Vic and Christine in Norfolk, regularly making half-hour video films of our adventures. Vic’s knowledge of wildlife – especially of whippets (they owned four) resulted in beautiful paintings and hundreds of limited edition prints. Although recently suffering form Parkinson’s Disease Vic still painted every day – albeit with a slightly freer style. Two weeks ago he went to hospital for a knee replacement, and while there unfortunately contracted MRSA and subsequently pneumonia. Very sadly on Saturday Vic died. He was one of my oldest friends. This is a miniature I painted of Vic about 5 years ago.

It won the President’s Special Commendation Award at The Royal Society of Miniature Painters annual exhibition in 2007.with comments referring to the sensitivity, sincerity and kindness of the portrait, The President was right. Vic was not only talented, but kind, a great husband and father and a true friend. I’ll miss him a lot.

It’s been a full painting week - and I’ve probably spent well over 60 hours on Kevin’s portrait, a lot of them stippling his black frock coat.
Now that the river has gone down somewhat I took my dinghy out for the first row of the year on Saturday afternoon. Although the current is still strong, at least there’s not much white water. We went nearly as far as Henley Bridge before turning back and rowing against the current. Good exercise – I need it. Hopefully I’ll have a new mahogany rudder fitted this week, which should mean I won’t have to constantly look over my shoulder.
On Sunday I was invited to my niece Louisa’s house for dinner. Kate, Guy and Louisa’s 6 year-old daughter had, in the last few days, been given a little kitten. She named him Muppet. I think she favoured him because his hair colour almost matches her own.