W. ATACK Born in 1957 into a musical family father is a jazz pianist
and both brothers successful musical directors in film and TV, Simon
always had his sights on becoming a painter.
He began drawing aircraft and warships at a very
early age, his sketches mysteriously appearing on the end-papers
of his parents hard back novels, nursery books, and any other clean
white surface he came across. Invariably using biro still one of
his preferred sketching instruments today his efforts were indelible,
if not always appreciated at the time.
At about 8 years of age he was given his first set
of oil paints, possibly to save the family library, and has painted
with little else ever since. After regularly winning the school
art prize it became obvious to all concerned with his education
what his next step should be, and at age 16 he commenced formal
training at Wakefield College of Art. There he studied graphic design,
illustration and life drawing, all of which matured his ability
to sketch into a disciplined skill. Though grounded in the disciplines
of art during this period of training, his skills as a painter in
oil are however largely self-taught.
After leaving art college, like thousands of other
art students, the young artist found it impossible to get a job
where he could employ his skills. Though the agencies he approached
liked his portfolio, without practical experience he was always
left to try his luck at the next interview. Recognising the need
to find an alternative line of work, and with his interest in aircraft
still very much alive, the young Simon Atack joined the Royal Air
Following training, upon arrival at his first posting,
by a stoke of good fortune his new Commanding Officer noticed the
word artist on his file, and asked Simon if hed like to Produce
a few aeroplane pictures to cheer the walls up a bit! It was an
opportunity the ex-art student, now professional airman seized with
both hands. His first pictures soon led to commissions for other
Units, Squadrons, and individuals throughout the RAF, to such degree
that in no time he became an unofficial military artist for the
However, his RAF days were not long to end and his
success had given him the encouragement to pursue a career as a
full-time professional artist upon his return to civilian life.
Throughout the 1980s, like any young artist making his way, he would
draw and paint the wide variety of subjects that clients asked him
to tackle. Florals proved popular, with daiseys in particular demand!
Two of his large examples being exhibited at the 1989 Paris Salon,
which brought commissions for similar works from galleries and corporate
clients all over Europe. Landscape paintings were published as prints,
a series of paintings for greetings cards was commissioned, and
at last the fledgling professional artist began to feel he was starting
to make his mark.
Working from his studio in a haunted 18th century
farmhouse in Yorkshire, by the mid 1990s he returned to his favourite
subjects, painting aircraft, ships and the sea.
Much influenced early in his career by the aircraft
and ship paintings of Roy Cross, Simon remembers slavishly copying
this artists paintings in an effort to get some idea of how they
were constructed, even spending his spare cash collecting aircraft
model kits solely for the Roy Cross artwork on the boxes! He credits
much of his inspiration today to this artist. In common with many
aviation artists, he also much admired the work of Frank Wooton,
particularly the beauty of his cloudscapes and his rich use of colour.
The standards set by both these artists were the
benchmarks Simon strove to attain in his paintings, employing a
mix of technical accuracy and painterly vision. In later years he
has come to appreciate and enjoy the work of David Shepherd, who
became a mentor during the long climb of his career, and he is a
great admirer of Robert Taylor whose paintings, according to Simon,
are everything aviation art should be superbly executed blueprint
accurate aircraft, set in skies that are alive with colour and atmosphere.
Today Simon Atacks art has achieved the kind of recognition
that his blend of natural talent and studious application deserves.
His original paintings, always in great demand, have great impact
and dimension. Now published by the Military Gallery, his fine quality
work is available to a wide audience where his talent will be easily
recognized by those who appreciate the finer points of aviation
and maritime art.