How did you become an artist?
It was the one thing at school I was good at. I left school at 16 and worked in various jobs for almost 20 years. It took a while to dawn on me that I could earn a living from art. By my mid-30s, my wife and I had managed to save enough money for me to take a break for two years to concentrate entirely on art to see if I could make it work. Although I didn’t become an overnight success, there were enough encouraging signs and it progressed from there. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to focus on it for the last 40 years, which has been a fantastic privilege.
How would you describe your art?
I’ve spent much of my career in some of the world’s great wildernesses - rainforests, deserts, the Arctic, and mountain ranges including the Himalayas. With my art, I try to convey what’s it’s like to live in these wild places for a while. I also incorporate into the work written diaries about the events of my time in a place and symbolic souvenirs. So the work isn’t simply landscape painting – it’s about being absorbed in wild places.
I usually work to a theme, like ‘volcanoes’, ‘rainforests’, ‘mountains’ or ‘water’. A series may take three or four years to complete, at which point I have an exhibition, which generally opens at a museum in Britain before showings in the USA. I’ve worked a lot in America, which has some of the world’s best-preserved wildernesses, so I’ve exhibited over there many times. One of my American collectors set up The Foster Art and Wilderness Foundation in California (basically a permanent museum for my work), so I am probably better known there than in the UK.