Award-winning Scottish figurative artist Stephen Shankland is to make his debut on the fairways with a new collection of paintings that showcase some of Scotland's most renowned golf courses.
Shankland has combined his immense talent for painting figures and his ability to create the dramatic backdrop of a golf course using a colourful, impressionistic style to produce a series of paintings that are unique in the world of golf art.
To launch his entree into the golfing world, Shankland has focused his artistic attention on three of the his homeland's most recognised golf courses; the iconic Old Course in St Andrew's, Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, the sixth oldest club in the world and home to the 2011 Walker Cup, and Turnberry, which played host to this year's Open Championship.
Born in Irvine, Shankland has a figurative pedigree second to none. In addition to winning a number of awards including the 2004 BP Portrait Award, which led to an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the 38-year-old is a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.
Amongst his most notable commissions are portraits of Sir Peter Mansfield at the National Portrait Gallery and Peter Chapman, Lay Canon of St Paul's Cathedral for the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's.
However, it was after painting a commission of the 2006 US amateur golf champion, Richie Ramsey, for the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club that Shankland's interest in golf course landscapes was ignited. He realised that golf courses have infinite potential for abstraction using figures and landscapes together.
"I paint my golfers with great attention to detail in order to give the viewer a real sense of the game in action and their emotional experience that in turn plays off against the quite expressive or impressionistic style which I utilise to paint the landscape," explains Shankland, who graduated from Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen with a 1st class BA (Hons) degree in Design.
"Painting for me is not always about faithfully copying what is in front of you. In fact the real magic in a painting is found when the artist makes a variety of individual judgements and decisions, whether that choice is in texture, brush marks, colour harmonies or composition.
"This way I am able to transcend the basic game of golf into a work of fine art that appeals to golfers and non-golfers alike as it is both realist and expressionist simultaneously."
The result is an energetic and vibrant look at the game that gives a modern take on golfing action that has rarely been seen in golf art in the past.
"Stephen has captured something quite unique in his study of golf courses; he has managed to accurately portray golfers in action in the correct stances as well as to suggest different weather conditions, the subtlety of the light and the ruggedness and drama of golf course terrain," comments Ronnie MacAskill, PGA Director of Golf at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club and owner of the Auld Kirk Gallery in Aberdeen.
"This is something very new, exciting and different and there are no golf paintings in the world just now that are quite like them. Most of what I've seen are illustrations of the courses themselves whilst Stephen manages to add the human involvement of the golfer with the course in a truly exceptional fashion." Shankland is currently looking to extend his golf portfolio by painting Carnoustie, Royal Troon and Muirfield golf courses and then hopes to travel to the US to capture some of America's most revered courses. As with all artists, he is also available for individual commissions to commemorate a special round of golf or a favourite golf course.
For a taste of Stephen Shankland's golf art, please log on to www.auldkirk.com