One of our most loved Dry Red Press artists is the wonderful Ian Bliss who sadly passed away earlier this year. Ian was a lovely person to work with, a devoted family man and a talented artist. As one of the first artists we published, Ian's popular greeting card range forms part of the 'core' of Dry Red Press. 'Look, no Hands' has for many years been one of our best selling cards.
Born in 1930, Ian studied at the Repton and Leicester College of Art from 1950 to 1955. Elected as a Member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (RI) in 1992, he served on the ‘Council’ as Archivist for several years. Exhibiting at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, he also has work in many prestigious collections including that of Lady Victoria Getty.
His whimsical paintings were inspired by his love of the countryside, his home and his family, his wife Jill, four children and his six grandchildren. His love of fishing as a boy was the creative force behind his sea paintings. His beautiful and imaginative work evolved slowly over weeks and took on a dream like quality.
Ian was a much loved member of the RI. Rosa Sepple, President of the RI, remembers him:
"Ian was one of the sweetest and most genuine men you could ever meet. A loving family man, talented artist and a great ambassador for the RI. The encouragement he gave to me when I first started painting was amazing. He will be greatly missed by all".
'Look, no Hands' by Ian Bliss
We asked Ian's wife Jill Bliss about the background story of the acrylic painting 'Look, no Hands':
"The painting is set in a village in Derbyshire where Ian's uncle and aunt used to live, and where his cousin still lives. Ian's uncle Douglas Percy Bliss attended the Royal College of Art in London and was great friends with Bawden and Ravillious. He was a tremendous influence on Ian and Ian's father wanted Ian to be an artist like Doug.
The house features in many paintings by members of the family. Ian's painting Hard Going Uphill has a similar setting. Ian always maintained that the figure on the bike is me, but there is artistic licence here - as far as I am concerned as Ian never witnessed me riding a bike like that!"
The house is familiar to us at Dry Red Press as it has featured in many of the paintings we have published in Ian's card range over the years. We can see it in two other cards in his current range, 'Apple Time' and 'The Birthday Party'.
We already greatly miss Ian and our lovely chats over the phone. We are honoured to have worked with him for so many years and we are delighted to say we will be publishing another one of his paintings as a greeting card in next year's collection.
With our warmest thanks to Jill Bliss and to Rosa Sepple PRI.
Laura and Kicki