The Countryside Alliance 2017 Christmas cards are now available to order. For this year we have nine beautiful, top quality Christmas Cards to choose from and the Countryside Alliance 2018 calendar.

One of the cards ‘Decisions, decisions‘ has been kindly designed by Alasdair Hilleary (Loon), who’s work is worldly-wise and humorous.

We asked him a few questions about his skills and inspiration.

  1. Tell us about your background and how you got into painting?

I have known that I could draw since I was 5 years old, my parents always encouraged me at every step of the way. My mother is a painter but my father is not – his sense of humour made up for that! I was always well taught at every school I went to , particularly Gordonstoun where I did my A level ( got a B!). I replaced Art college with a short service commission, spending 4 happy years in The Scots Guards – my mess bills were often paid for with caricatures of brother officers. When I left the Army 40 years ago, I began what I am still doing now – it is a life sentence. I am extremely rich – not with money but with experiences and meeting people.

  1. Is there a particular style or technique you use when painting? Can you explain how it works?

I paint in watercolour and Indian ink, my style is bold and probably more suited to oil painting. I try and combine humour with a painting that is visually appealing. I admire H.M. Bateman, Hieronymus Bosch, Monet, and Honore Daumier. I use a mirror in my studio to capture expressions and the occasional life drawing to polish up my observation. I carry a sketch book with me everywhere in case I think of an idea or I need to write down a rude limerick!  I often draw unsuspecting travellers on the tube just to practice my caricaturing – this has sometimes landed me in trouble but generally makes people smile! Result!

  1. What inspires you and where did you get your main inspiration from for these Christmas cards?

I am inspired by what I do, and I do what I have to paint in order to understand it! In other words I gain my ideas from life’s experiences; if I sat in my studio churning out cartoons, I would soon dry up, so it is vital that I get out and do the very things that make one feel good. Skiing, riding, stalking, shooting, fishing etc, it is only when one is absorbed by the enthusiasm for these activities that the amusing side begins to emerge. Then the cartoons begin! The idea for ‘Decisions, Decisions!’  is rather like trying to decide between turkey or goose for the Christmas dinner….so I imagine foxes too must have similar dilemmas! The landscape is loosely based on a release pen I sketched about 6 years ago on The Black Isle where we used to live.

  1. Do you have a favourite subject to paint?

I love to let my imagination go wild and to create cartoons of my own ideas. I do so much commissioned work that that is not always possible, unless I can persuade the commissioner to run with it! I also do a lot of watercolour landscapes which is good practice for my backgrounds.

  1. What would you say is integral to the work of an Artist?

To be well supported by a partner is a huge privilege but not always available, it is a lonely existence being a creator and there is an ego to consider too that needs grooming.  I try to be good with people. Buyers always like to know the artist and sometimes to be party to some inner thoughts, some originality of spirit or some terrible suffering they might have undergone; it makes whatever they have purchased much more intriguing!

  1. What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

A horrendously expensive sable hair no.12 paint brush, a mirror, a radio (The Goon show, Dad’s army always good for getting one into humorous mood!) and access to food!

‘Decisions, decisions’ is a fantastic humorous image, perfect for a cheery Christmas. You can order a pack of 10 online or call 0370 270 9011 to order by phone.