The Artist, John Lyons
| Lover | Husband | Artist | Author | - John Lyons, the Caring, Curious Man.
Born, 1963 to teacher parents, the youngest of five children, he was encouraged to be creative, whilst open to learning from observation, listening and questioning. Though gifted, art wasn't considered a "real job". Dissuaded from following his passion, he was directed towards the sciences as a good source of income. He read "Applied Biology" in Surrey, then took time out to train for life as a Catholic Priest, studying Theology and Philosophy at Durham. Though not ordained, this period produced a young, self-confident man, with advanced communications skills. Whilst training he was taught to be a radio-journalist / producer/ presenter to BBC standards, skills he was invited to put into practice by studio-recording, producing and presenting a week of "Thought For The Day" on BBC Radio! Leaving theology, he turned towards medical science, specialising in Medical Microbiology and underwent training in Liverpool, with advanced studies at Manchester University, gaining a Post-Graduate Fellowship in 1990. With this high accolade he was offered a senior position in Oxford, within the Public Health Laboratories at the John Radcliffe Hospital. He remained a creative artist throughout this time in professional science, being invited by his Professional Institute to design branding for a National Science Conference, amongst other things.
Days, Nights and Nude Women, the story continues...
Though Oxford days were devoted to medical science, diagnosis, research, learning and teaching, John Lyons' free-time became devoted to "people in distress" and "creative art". He was a volunteer inspector of Police detention suites, a counsellor with Oxford's Victim Support (specialising in victims of acute trauma, including rape) and a resident-elected Councillor representing the needs of his electorate at Local Parish Council and Oxford Town Hall meetings. John was very popular, pulled in all directions.
Becoming An Art Tutor in Oxford...
From 1992 John attended a weekly Life Drawing Class in Jericho, Oxford. His first ever drawing, completed here, was accepted for exhibition in the City's "Oxford ArtWeeks", shown at a City centre location and sold. This was his first "art sale", all proceeds from which he gave to charity. At this time John sketched mainly Portraits, drawing with charcoal on bright coloured sugar paper, creating out of the negative darkness into the light of form and highlights. In the first six months of attending this class, the tutor was "head-hunted" to a position with an American University. Not having a tutor, the class was threatened with closure. John volunteered as the "life drawing tutor" and continued to run the class, sourcing new ladies to model, until alternative arrangements could be made. Shortly after he started whole-day life-drawing sessions at the Community Centre in Littlemore (Oxford). Whole-day sessions allowed artists the time to experiment with techniques. John recalls a visiting artist mixing domestic wall-plaster to then paint a "fresco" of the nude during the session. This technique was a great inspiration to John's later work, where he painted female nudes within quick-setting-cement to exhibition success (see below).
Art Tutor on Television (re-shown, in multiple territories across the globe)...
2000, John Lyons relocated from Oxford to Stockport, Cheshire establishing a large photographic and art studio on the upper floor of Vernon Mill. In doing so, he became a driving force behind the "VMA" studio-group ("Vernon Mill Artists"). John cajoled a committed group of ladies of mixed ages and sizes, plus a small number of men, to pose nude for his weekly Life-Drawing group, few of these people had ever posed before, let alone nude! John's group became popular with local artists and art-teachers, some of whom were happy to send their Art "A-Level" students to John for additional tutoring and drawing experience. Around 2005, John Lyons was approached by the TV Producer for "How Not To Decorate" (a Lifestyle programme showing multiple series on Channel5) to teach their Celebrity presenters, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, how to draw and paint from a reclining nude in his studio, footage to be included in an up-coming programme. John was happy to be invited and thus filming started. (Few pictures sadly remain from this time just some thumbnails, shown below). All proceeds from this event were paid to Christie's Cancer Care in Manchester, for whom John also provided a portion of his artistic income. The popular programme has now been aired several times in the UK (Episode #3.2, Nov 2005) and according to Wikipedia is still showing on Australian TV. It has also aired in South Africa, New Zealand, Estonia, Canada, Poland, Spain and Albania.
Why Does John Lyons Avoid The Spotlight...?
John Lyons has exhibited around the UK, including Central London art galleries, yet you've probably never heard of him. Standing at an imposing 6'6" tall he tends to be remembered, once met but otherwise doesn't actively seek the spotlight for his artistic merits. As well as being an artist, John offers support to people in distress, at the edges of society, in a totally voluntary capacity and feels that to be capable of doing this well, he needs to live an "anonymous" life away from the spotlight... even though this contradicts the usual lifestyle of an artist. So long as he can create, so long as he can help, he's a happy and content man.
Moving forward?...Illness and stepping back?
John Lyons became seriously ill after a progressive illness and life-saving surgery followed by complications in 2015. His condition is now "managed" though he is incapable of full-time work and has had to come to terms with low-income retirement in his mid 50's. Much to his own surprise this has been good for his creativity. Without the pressure of maintaining a profit margin and chasing exhibition opportunities, he has settled to a slower pace of life. He enjoys cooking for his wife and DIY at home, interspaced with creativity around the bodies of naked women. Since CoVid lockdown, ladies from across the globe have approached him to pose "virtually" for him online, others send him reference pictures of themselves nude from which to sketch and a small selection of local (and not so local) ladies have arranged to regularly meet up with him for sessions of pure creativity. Pre-CoVid, he would never have accepted to sketch from a photograph but the enforced isolationism of CoVid forced him to alter his perspective on this rigid stance and there has been no looking back since. Though paid little to nothing, he is inundated with ladies wanting him to sketch them. John is enjoying his retirement! Also, since he no longer chases to exhibit, he posts his original creations out to the ladies who pose so willingly for him. He has now boasts a growing international fan-base, though totally anonymous. (John Lyons never identifies his clients or posing ladies, if they choose anonymity.)
Art Exhibitions with John Lyons:
- "The Beauty Of Women 2", The Strand Gallery, Piccadilly, London.
- "Tie & Tease" at Electrowertz, Islington, London
- "The Beauty Of Women", the Menier Gallery, SouthBank, London
- 2nd International Twitter Exhibition, Moss, Norway
- Invited to show with the SAATCHI ART gallery (online)
- Heaton Moor Rd Pop-Up Gallery. 6 Week Gallery.
- Vernon Mill Artists Exhibition
- 22-26 Bramhall Lane, Shaw Heath. 6 Week Gallery (Co-Director/Sponsor)
- Stockport Municipal Art Gallery
- Bistro West, Manchester & Manchester Metro "Featured Artist" (Cement Fresco)
- Fellicinni Bistro, Manchester Exhibition (Cement Fresco, sold entire collection to one collector, opening night)
- Trade Stand "Erotica" Trade Show (GMex Manchester).
- Breaking Spaces III, Stockport
- Breaking Spaces II, Stockport
- Oxfordshire Artweeks,
- BBC Radio Tees, "Artist Supporting Breast Cancer Victim, in Nude Art" (interview with John Lyons & the anonymised lady)
- Life Drawing/Painting Tutor, Channel5 "How Not To Decorate" - Repeated in UK and shown worldwide (multiple territories)
- Manchester Metro "Featured Artist" - double page spread, Art Editor posed semi-clad for John Lyons, working with quick setting cement & acrylic paint to create a "Modern Fresco" on canvas.
- Sensual Nude Photography, - Widely published UK Press
- Moved to Lancashire, Nov 2015
- Stokesley, N.Yorks. Opened Art Studio, Oct 2011 (Photographic and Life Drawing Studio)
- Moved to North Yorkshire, Jan 2011
- Managing Director, an Arts Community Interest Company c2006
- Stockport, Started Life Drawing Group, 2002
- Stockport, Opened Studio & Gallery, 2002
- Moved to Stockport, Jan 2001
- Registered as Life Drawing Tutor on RAM 1998 (National Register for Artist Models/Tutors)
- Oxford, Tutor for Life Drawing , 1998-2000
- Oxford, Student of Classical Photography & Processing (student under Keith Barnes) 1997-2000
- Oxford, Student of Life Drawing / Painting (Life Drawing, Painting) 1994-1998.