Harold Warner was born in Colchester on the 8th of December 1914, the son of Samuel Warner and his wife Edith Laura, née Hatch, who had married in Colchester. He started his career as a bookbinder and was a self-taught artist in oil, painting landscapes and views of villages and towns in Essex and Suffolk. In 1939 he married Olive Doreen Gower (1914-2002) at Colchester and they had two children Robert and Joan. He was a prolific and passionate painter who would leave his home early in the morning (1), on his bicycle, with his painting gear strapped to his back, only to return late in the evening. He was a member and exhibitor at the Ipswich Art Club (1952-1967) and one of the first members of Colchester Art Society. He was Treasurer in the Society from 1965 to 1967 and became an honorary member in 2006. His son Robert is also a member of the Society. They had a joint exhibition at the Minories in May 1973. Harold lived in West Bergholt, Essex, until he died on the 26th of December 2010.
Harold Warner wrote in his painting journal the following words:
”On Monday Jan 17th 1972, 1.30pm - 4pm, oil 24 x 30 in: larger painting for a change. The meadows near Bakers Lane on a wet and windy day. Reached painting site by going down Bourne Road, over the stream up the lane past the orchards, under the one arch (railway) and had to lift my bike loaded with painting gear over four stiles. Rather tiring with the slippery and soggy conditions under foot. Painted by a big water hole with the mud squelching and nearly enveloping my stool. Thank goodness for gum boots. Near the end was invaded by inquisitive cows who seemed at home in the sticky mire. Rainstorm nr Lexden.”
Warner’s note quoted above sounds very like notes made by the nineteenth century landscape artist John Constable, and the impasto technique derives partly from Constable’s experimental brushwork and colouring of around one hundred and fifty years earlier. Warner’s version of this technique may also owe much to artists such as Luncien Freud and Frank Auerbach, a method which became popular in the twentieth century because it approximated to the taste for immediacy and spontaneity in painting rather than the smooth illusionistic style of academic art. In this oil Warner has used thick layers of pigment to create a shimmering effect, a method which landscape masters, from Dutch seventeenth century artists onwards, developed to conjure up the freshness of rain after a storm. Warner’s skill in depicting clouds, dramatic perspective and evocation of specific mood is here especially powerful.
1973 The Minories Art Gallery, Colchester, mixed exhibition with his son Robert and Malcolm Carter
1974 The Ipswich Art Club, Sand Works near Fingeringhoe, Centenary Exhibition
1990, 1991, 1992 The Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions
2000 The Chappel Galleries Warner, Harold and Warner, Robert, a mixed exhibition with his son Robert
The Royal Society of British Artists
The Royal Institute of Oil Painters
The Royal Academy Summer exhibitions
Colchester Art Society
Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, solo exhibition
Digby Gallery, Colchester
Works in Public Collections
The Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend on Sea
Reeman Dansie Auctioneers, 30 July 2013
BUCKMAN, David, Dictionary of artists in Britain since 1945, Art Dictionaries Ltd, Bristol, 1998, p. 1244
SIMS, Ron, Obituary for Howard (sic) Warner (1914-2010), Colchester Art Society Archives
(1) He often left at 3 or 4 am to paint and watch the sun rise.