PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 June 2014
The skill and precision of Derek Blois' art work is undeniable, as is his enthusiasm for the painting work that has taken over his life since his retirement.
Derek co-founded the Aylsham-based design and creative agency, Adept Design, and after 30-plus years in the business retired to indulge in his love of art. He didn’t realise that his talents would soon see his art so in demand that he is now busy with a year’s worth of paintings, including many for members of the military and their families as he specialises in accurate and atmospheric studies of personnel, aircraft including helicopters and ships.
“My retirement has been put off for a while as the painting has really taken off,” laughs Derek, who lives in Aylsham with his wife Liz. “I am now commissioned to the hilt with paintings at Picturecraft in Holt - retirement is a full-time job!”
Derek’s love of art stretches back to the 1970s when he went to art schools at Colchester and Brighton after five years in Essex police force. “I directed all my creative talents into design, at London at first, then I moved to Aylsham 35 years ago with my wife and children to start up a business, Adept Design.” A couple of years ago he sold the business to a colleague and picked up his paintbrushes again.
“My son, Joseph, is a captain and pilot in the Army Air Corps,” says Derek. “I did a painting for a colleague of his. Since then it as grown and grown - the best part for me is that I am working with soldiers’ families who are looking for a present for their son, husband or boyfriend.
“I focus on aviation and maritime, mainly within the military. I am now being commissioned to paint regimental war scenarios from Afghanistan along with many aircraft and ships. My son flies helicopters, so there is a personal link to it and I have become a bit of an expert on them. I like the challenge of painting helicopters but they are not the easiest. “Last year I was commissioned by the Royal Navy to paint an Operation Ellemy scenario involving HMS Ocean and the AH Apache helicopters re their work in Libya. This resulted in me having to go and stay on board HMS Ocean to present the painting to the Admiral of the Fleet. I was treated like a VIP on board, it was amazing. I never saw myself going down this road, but I am really enjoying it and I am doing a hobby I really love.”
As well as his intricate military and maritime paintings, street scenes are another favourite with Derek, whose older son Lewis was a professional footballer with Norwich City and is now an agronomist focussing on football pitches and golf clubs.
He has created detailed street scenes of shops and buildings, including Aylsham Market Place and Holt’s Shirehall Plain. Recently Derek exhibited at the Institute of East Anglia Artists and is now an associate.
See Derek in action at the Royal Norfolk Show on Thursday, June 26, when he gives a painting demonstration in the Holt marquee with Picturecraft Gallery. World famous child artist Keiron Williamson, of Trunch, will be demonstrating his painting skills on the first day of the show, Wednesday, June 25. Derek’s work can be seen at www.oilsandwatercolours.co.uk and the Facebook page Paintings by Derek Blois.