Born and brought up in Sheffield, where his father worked in the steel industry, like most of his friends’ dads. He enjoyed drawing cartoons and animals from an early age, and art was his favourite school subject.
At junior school, he was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up.
‘A commercial artist,’ he answered. He didn’t know exactly what this was, but had already worked out that it would be good to draw and paint and get paid for it.
At comprehensive school, a careers adviser recommended an Art course at Granville College in Sheffield. There, Geoff achieved A Level Art and a distinction in Graphic Design. He enjoyed college but it was more about graphics, typography, photography and design rather than the fine art he is known for now.
Geoff’s first job was cleaning toilets on the night shift in Sheffield Town Hall, while he tried to get work for an advertising agency. The only way was up from here, and a job as a Display Assistant for the Co-op Department Store was definitely a step in the right direction. He later moved into the advertising department and was eventually promoted to Advertising Manager.
Geoff painted watercolour landscapes of local scenes in his spare time and joined a couple of art groups. He found that his paintings sold well at their exhibitions and events, and began to wonder if there might be a wider market for them. In 1998 at the age of 42, he was made redundant from his position at the Co-op. He was married to Florence by now and they had a young family and a mortgage to pay. However, he was fairly confident that he could make a go of his childhood ambition to be a commercial artist, and with Florence’s support and encouragement, his new career was launched.
As well as selling paintings, Geoff found he had a talent for teaching. With so many people enjoying watercolour landscape painting as a hobby, there was a ready market for his tuition. The Society for All Artists (SAA) employed him to demonstrate their products at shows and events, and filmed him painting for instructional videos and later DVDs. For over ten years, he and Florence travelled up and down the UK demonstrating painting for Art clubs and societies, with Florence selling the products at the end of each session. This helped to make Geoff’s known and the husband and wife team met some lovely people who welcomed them back time and again.
In 2006, Geoff wrote his first step-by-step art instruction book for Search Press, and so began another career as a best-selling author with a worldwide audience. He has written fifteen books, which have been translated into numerous languages, soon to include Chinese and Japanese.
Geoff has sold his original paintings in galleries and exhibitions all over the UK, but recently he is concentrating more on teaching and writing, both of which he very much enjoys. He particularly loves seeing students at the end of a day’s tuition, really pleased with the painting they have produced and planning to frame and display it.
Geoff and Florence have lived in the Derbyshire Dales on the edge of the Peak District National Park for over twenty-five years. It is an area full of wonderful landscapes to paint, but they have also travelled extensively, both in the UK and further afield, in search of inspiration.
Geoff has never regretted following his early choice of career. He has clearly inspired his four-year-old granddaughter, Ella, who was working on a colouring book recently and explained that she likes colouring in because, ‘It’s what Grandad does for a job.’
Geoff is excited by the opportunity to reach an even wider audience of watercolour artists through these online tutorials. He has very much enjoyed filming the first twelve, and is keen to include a variety of subjects and locations, providing some unique painting challenges.