NJP Swindon Advertiser 8-Aug-2016

A nice in-depth piece in the Adver as they promote the artists taking part in this year's Swindon Open Studios over the first two weekends of September.

Hard graft paying off for passionate artist Nathan

Swindon Advertiser

NATHAN Pegler, 43, became a professional artist in 2014 after 20 years working for Honda. He opens the first exhibition of his work next week and will also be part of Swindon Open Studios next month. Nathan lives on the outskirts of Royal Wootton Bassett with his partner, Samantha Williams, and has a daughter, Lauren. 

NATHAN Pegler has the contented manner of a person beginning to make a living from doing something they love and were meant to do.

He spends a few hours a week as a support worker, ensuring a steady income, but the rest of his time is devoted to art.

Working mainly in pastels, he produces landscapes, seascapes, fantastical abstracts and science fiction pieces with a heavy emphasis on his beloved Star Wars saga.

His pieces sell steadily, as do prints, cards and other reproductions.

“I have always loved films,” he said, “and from an early age I’d see a film and want to draw the vehicles.

“One of my earliest art memories is drawing the Light Cycle from Flash Gordon in 1980. I have quite a vivid memory of drawing this thing.

“I’ve always been able to draw – I was always quite creative at school, always winning gold stars at junior school for art work , and it was always ‘Apart from Nathan, who else can help me with this art project for the wall…’ It was all that kind of thing!

“I’ve got very clear memories of Mrs Evans at Wroughton Junior School saying that many, many years ago.”

Later, at Ridgeway School, he encountered another teacher whose encouragement meant a lot to him and still does.

“I would like to mention Ian Pillinger. He was my first art teacher at Ridgeway – he’s retired now. His style influenced me. When I first saw some of his work it stuck with me. It was a graphic style in parts, but on the flipside there’s an abstract element to his work that I love. It’s a strange mix, but people say that about my work…

“Perhaps I’ve got Ian’s work in my head all the time but don’t realise it.”

Nathan was born at the old Princess Margaret Hospital and raised in Wootton Bassett and Wroughton. His mother ran a cleaning business before retiring and his father is a professional pianist and Royal College of Music examiner who made several vinyl albums demonstrating the capabilities of various keyboards, which are now collectable. Nathan has a younger brother.

After leaving school, Nathan planned to study art and make it his career.

“I was going to go to art college but I was told I wasn’t good enough. I don’t remember the guy’s name. I went for an interview at the Euclid Street art college with my portfolio at seventeen years old.

“They very kindly said I needed to go away and do a bit more work and improve before they’d accept me – to the astonishment of my art teacher at Ridgeway.

“I kind of accepted it because the standard to get into Euclid Street was very, very high.

“I particularly wanted to do graphic design, and I don’t think my work reflected that I was going to be good at graphic design.

“I just kind of shook it off and lost interest after that. Perhaps it had more of an effect at the time than I let on; I went and got a job.”

He was already working for a classic car servicing firm in Wroughton, but in 1995 he began working for Honda, where he would stay for 20 years.

“I didn’t do any art. I did nothing. Working there was a means to an end, and I got stuck in a rut. I did the odd piece of work for family, just little landscapes and abstract work. I just used to dabble a little bit, but it probably wasn’t until about 2000 that I started doing that, so I didn’t do anything for years.

“I didn’t even have any kit. I didn’t have any pastels, paints paper. I think I must have just bought a few bits and bobs just to do some gifts for family.

“I got stuck in a Honda rut. I hated the last six or seven years, hated it. It was no life. It was a grind, just a massive grind.”

Thoughts of becoming an artist surfaced once more, but depression caused by his circumstances stifled his credibility.

In 2014, with the support of new partner Samantha Williams, he finally decided to act on his ambitions and accept an offer of redundancy from Honda.

He found to his delight that he was producing good work, having wondered whether he could do it.

“It was a case of doing all this different work, trying all these different styles, getting a portfolio together and being in a position to start printing the work myself, marketing it, trying to get known and telling people what I was doing.”

He also attended a job fair organised by Honda for ex-employees, which led to him meeting with a business coach.

“I’d been working in a car factory for twenty years. I didn’t have a business mind, I didn’t have a clue about Unique Selling Points and all this jargon. USP I thought was a long-life milk…”

His exhibition on Tuesday, at the Manor House Enterprise Centre in High Street, Royal Wootton Bassett, will run from 9am to 5pm. Nathan and his business mentor, Isla Baliszewska of Wiltshire-based Smart Coaching and Training, will gives talks during the day.

On the first two weekends of next month Nathan will be part of the annual Swindon Open Studios event, in which artists welcome members of the public into their workspaces.

He insists that everybody with an ambition can do something to bring it closer to fulfilment, even if it’s working a few hours less per week to allow a little extra time to work on the future they truly desire.

“You’ve just got to take that step – and it’s a bloody scary step.

“But if you really want to do it you will find a way. Do it, because you’ll regret it if you don’t.”

Nathan’s Facebook presence is NJP Pastel Art.

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