Ian P. Hudson's Art Background


I have painted all my life, but did very little between 1977 and 2003. In 2003 I found myself with none of the IT consulting work that I had done for decades, and decided to develop a line of abstract painting, based on mathematical ideas, that had interested me for at least 40 years.

Already at primary school, at about 7 years of age, I used to enjoy an activity called geometrical drawing, and at prize-givings I was even awarded school certificates for it. At grammar school, at the age of 13 and at the stage where we were introduced to co-ordinate geometry (starting, as was traditional, with the parabola y = x2), I was introduced by a mathematics teacher to a wonderful book then held in the school library (and in fact only available to older pupils, but that teacher borrowed it for me). It was E.H.Lockwood's A Book of Curves (Cambridge University Press, 1963). Within a couple of years I saved up the 25 shillings to buy myself a copy of this glossy hardback book; 40 years later, I still have it by me as I develop some of the new designs for my paintings. (For more about this and other books, see my bibliography.)

In my teens, I used to go to the school art room and paint during many lunch breaks, until the Head of Art who had always taught my class art left the school, and the new Head of Art discontinued the arrangement. I bought, piecemeal, a full set of oil paint colours and materials, and I did a number of paintings at home, but I never did GCE exams in art, and at that time I never considered becoming an artist as a career option.

At university I began as a physics major but switched to mathematics at the start of my second year. The work involved nothing like the geometric patterns that I liked so much, and I remember no input to my mathematical art from that time. After getting my BSc, I stayed for a Postgraduate Certificate of Education with the idea of becoming a mathematics teacher. A fortnight of teaching practice was arranged for me in a Bristol primary school before the Institute of Education year (and its education theory course work) started. One day, I conducted an art class in which I had groups of children making simple versions of the cardioid pattern seen in this gallery; they used a large sheet of black sugar paper, on which the children drew circles with white chalk using a blackboard compass, after which they cut out "stained glass window panes" which were then backed by coloured tissue paper to produce a genuinely translucent stained glass window effect. This would be recognizable as an antecedent of the current cardioid paintings, the only difference being the far smaller number of circles.

However, after obtaining my PGCE I took a job in a comprehensive school in Moss Side, Manchester, which left me little free time for art. But I didn't last long as a teacher: it was too stressful for me, and in 1973 I found myself unemployed and living in the bed-sit. My next step in the direction of art came when, that spring in 1973, a bed-sit neighbour who was a lecturer at the University of Salford told me he was leaving as he was about to buy a house to live in. However, he owned no art; so he commissioned me to do a series of paintings so as to have something with which to furnish the walls of his house! His name was Nurali Peera, and he was from Zanzibar but of Gujarati ethnic background. The pictures I did for him included a view of the mainstreet in Zanzibar during his youth (the 1950s), a scene of three musicians and three women dancers in saris painted in a Gujarati folk art style, and a portrait of Nurali himself, done in the style of an 18th century Indian miniature of a Rajah. I liked the musical scene so much that, having kept the cartoon I used for it, I later painted myself another version of it which I still have. Sadly, Nurali died suddenly in October 1987, aged 55.

In the summer of 1973 I got my first job in the information technology industry, which subsequently took me abroad for some years (to Paris, Stuttgart, and Virginia in the USA) and left me little time for this hobby as I developed my interests in music, writing, and foreign languages, then when I returned to the UK and settled down, being a homeowner. However I also painted at some point around 1972 an oil-on-canvas version of a sort of "hippy dream" image I originally did in the 1960s in black ink on cartridge paper. It represented another quite different strand in my stylistic background and I gave it the title A Midsummer Night's Dream #1.

Finding myself without the IT contract work that I did fairly continuously from 1985 to 2001 that has led me, from mid-2003, to explore painting again as an occupation. In the summer of 2004 I had my first sale of new abstract work.

More about my painting design process for the mathematical paintings.