Gerry Defries, who considers himself a colourist in the impressionist style, has exhibited widely in England, America and France. He paints seascapes and landscapes in acrylics and has sold close to 200 works.
During a stroll along the Thames he spied a laser boat; a small racing dinghy that he used to race in his younger day. “I took a photograph and painted it,” recalls Gerry, whose first cousin married a man from Wellington and lived there for five years before relocating to Auckland where they stayed for five years before settling in Melbourne, Australia. “It got selected by a gallery in Edinburgh and then it got moved to Glasgow. The same painting was also selected by the Mall Galleries for the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition. I forgot that it was already in Glasgow and couldn’t find it. So I spent the weekend producing another one. I then realised where the first one was, got that back and duly took it to the Mall Galleries. They sent a picture of it out to all their clients. One of the clients recognised the boat. The next thing I knew I got an email from this gentleman saying ‘you have painted my boat’. I thought ‘oh goodness me, I’m in trouble for breach of copyright or something’. He came to see the painting and bought it, went on my website and saw the other one and bought that as well. He then commissioned me to do another one. Unbeknown to me these boats and sails have decals and registration numbers on them. This particular one had various numbers on it prefixed by BUL. When I painted it I had no idea what that meant. It transpired that he was the Olympic champion from Bulgaria and was practicing for the Olympics in London on the Thames on that particular day. So for him it was momentous and for me, too. Getting into the Mall Galleries is high up on my list of achievements and I sold three paintings as a result. Right place, right time.”
“The breakthrough for me was Cork Street,” he reveals. “My best exhibition was Cork Street. The gallery owners told me that they were very happy with my paintings but very unhappy with the prices so they doubled them, which of course made me very happy. I sold something like 50 per cent of the canvases.”
For Gerry painting is very therapeutic. “I am an accountant by day,” he smiles. “As a youngster I would always go to an audit and scribble and draw because auditing is as boring as hell. So I used to draw the views from wherever I was. I remember starting this when we were in a very high building looking over the Thames but it was later in life that I truly got into painting. My late wife was a frustrated artist and she decided that after our children had grown up she would go back to art school and drag me along. I couldn’t paint for toffee in those days and of course she could. I persevered.