The Wapping Group of Artists - Est 1939
John Killens

John Killens

Although born in Kent he spent his early life from 6 months old to age 18 in Essex, on the Thames estuary near Southend. This has given him a lifelong love of small boats, muddy creeks and open countryside.

His father and aunt were both at one time amateur artists, so he grew up with drawing and painting as part of childhood. Attending Art College after leaving school, he took a commercial course for two and a half years before joining IPC Business Press for seven years as a staff illustrator. It was through working for the business and technical magazines that he received a thorough grounding in drawing-especially on site, in factories, aircraft hangers and farms. Handling a large imperial size board in a major industrial plant makes painting plein air on a 12" x 10" in Central London if not easy, at least more civilised! His job, however, gave little opportunity to paint and he left the company to spend 30 years otherwise gainfully employed outside the art world, but painting at weekends and holidays.

His ambition, however, was always to become a full time artist, so he took the plunge and left work in 2000. Continuing to paint plein air, but now with the addition of a studio, he enjoys painting marine and landscape, but is also increasingly drawn to urban subjects and gardens. Also, when possible, he likes the different discipline of portrait work. He believes in painting a subject as it is, and doesn't make a conscious attempt to change the atmosphere of a painting.
A member of two local art societies, he was elected to the Wapping Group in 2008.He was elected to Chelsea Art Society in 2016 , and is at present on the Council.

Over the years, before becoming a full time artist he grew to admire many of the painters working at the turn of the last century, particularly Clausen, La Tangue, Sargeant, Sickert, and Lavery-the list could go on! Also during this time he was inspired to persist with watercolour painting by the work of Jack Merriott and later to see and admire the work of Scott Tuke and Brabazon. The attraction of their work to him is the ability to show emotion but with sheer craftsmanship in execution.

John works in Oil, Watercolour and Pastel according to subject and mood-he enjoys them all.
Since starting to paint full time he has exhibited at the RSMA and ROI open exhibitions at the Mall, in the RWS and London Life exhibitions at Bankside and at Galleries across southern England. He was awarded the watercolour prize at the 2009 RSMA exhibition, joint winner of the Artist Magazine 2011 Christmas competition, and achieved a Caran d'Ache award at the 2012 annual Patchings Open Exhibition. He won the Gwen Mandley Memorial Award for watercolour at the Chelsea Art Society in 2015.

In 2010 he was one of two Wapping Group artists whose paintings were purchased by the Cutty Sark Trust and were subsequently reproduced on the hoardings surrounding the conservation project. These paintings are now part of the National Maritime Museum Collection.

From April 2011 to April 2012 he was appointed artist in residence to the project to build a £3m Community Centre in Crowborough. This resulted in 26 paintings and sketches, from site clearance to the finished building, which were shown to the Duchess of Gloucester and the major contractors at the official opening ceremony.

Apart from Wapping Wednesdays, he is regularly out painting in Sussex and is also working on a series of watercolours of London.

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