Al Hayball

Surprise Surprise by Al Hayball
Too Shy by Al Hayball
Sat Here Smiling by Al Hayball
Percy by Al Hayball
On The Lookout by Al Hayball
Moon Gazing by Al Hayball
Together by Al Hayball
Smile by Al Hayball
Caricaturist, wildlife artist, coastal landscape artist, et al. Well, the Al in question, Hayball is most certainly one of those rare commodities, an artist and a slight eccentric. He must be, surely. After all, he’s referred to in polite company as ‘the man who draws hares’. And square cows. And startlingly earnest caricatures of the rich, famous and extremely featured. And many other fascinating creatures to boot. And when Hayball’s not drawing all of the above and more, he’s shoe-horning his pet Bedlington Whippet called ‘Matilda Whiplington’ into every canvas he imagines and succinctly creates. Good old fashioned quintessentially English eccentricity or immensely eclectically-driven creativity? Your call. But while you’re thinking about it, here’s our take on the man himself.

Born and bred in Bristol in 1957, Hayball’s family upped sticks and moved to Bournemouth sometime between then and now according to Mr H, and it didn’t take long before his drawing put in an appearance. More normally – and by daylight - doodles running riot across the margins found in Hayball’s school exercise books, whilst of an evening he’d sit in badly-lit, smoke-filled Bristolian pub alcoves which his father would frequent on darts nights, furiously scribbling caricatures of all the character-ful pub denizens and usual suspects on the reverse sides of old beer mats. It’s said, very much inspired by the satirical cartoonist likes of Scarfe and Steadman. Hayball drew additional inspiration from the tall tales centred around smuggling that his imaginative Grandmother would regale him with, waxing increasingly lyrical about quirky looking fishing boats and blokes who were holed up in the caves that dotted the Dorset coastlines waiting to unload the vessel’s nefarious bounty.

Promptly on leaving secondary education, Hayball did that thing many artists do, and ignored his calling and opted for a life of (in his particular case) bank clerking; although he was employed by Barclays International in Poole. Slowly but surely Hayball worked his way back towards a more artistic destination, next becoming a printer for Abbey Life insurance people, shortly before securing the role of Production Manager for a graphic design studio. This experience proved to be priceless to Hayball, as he received a first hand insight and daily account of just how the art world worked from a commercial perspective. All the time – and away from work – Hayball was perfecting and fine-tuning his own personal art and predominantly his cartoonish caricatures, landscapes and studies of animals.

Feeling that a more rigid and structured art school higher education would have always distracted him from him developing of a unique style that expressed a little bit of Hayball the artist himself and would make him conform to an unwritten visual rule, he hitherto avoided further creative education like the proverbial plague. And was therefore essentially self-taught. That was until latterly when in a bid to broaden his understanding of illustration as a broad-ranging genre Hayball won a place as a mature student on Bournemouth Art Institute’s HNC course in Illustration and Graphics, followed in quick succession by another B/TEC award in Computer Studies to strengthen his all-round professional creative position.

So in the run of time and things it’s only really in recent history that Hayball has become a full-time professional artist taken on the challenge afforded by the full gamut of illustrative genres at his disposal. Save Renaissance-style nudes. Free-glowing pencils and charcoal sticks are Hayball’s weapon of creative choice and expressionism, the former being applied in a variety of colourations. Be the subject in focus dogs, hares, sheep, landscapes, people, exceedingly angular cows or his own Bedlington Whippet, ‘Tilly’. In terms of discovering his works, Hayball regularly navigates the UK’s road networks so as to exhibit his back catalogue of illustrations in galleries and at art fairs.

Stopping one moment to dwell on Hayball’s default style setting when it comes to landscapes and the architecture located within those compositions and they are to a painting enriched by a plethora of vivid colours vastly swathing themselves over bright and overtly cheery landscapes, as visually instigated and essayed by the injecture of acrylics. There just so happens to be a defining style to any one of Hayball’s genres too, ranging from the turret style roofs he depicts whenever he portrays buildings and the oft-angular, perspectively-suspect animals Hayball commits to canvas which he insists better illustrate how the creature feels on the inside rather than presenting its exterior more traditionally. Thankfully he has never gone the whole Damien Hirst hog to graphically portray the inner working of cats and dogs. Hayball himself points out that; “The beauty of painting is that, unlike a photo, you can portray a scene how you imagine it might have been, or how you would like it to be, when really the truth is a little less colourful!"

Seen as something of a departure from his typically naďve style of painting hitherto, Hayball has more recently engineered a change of direction and pictorial pace which now seems his wildlife placed in a predominantly monotone graphite setting; focusing on hares and his failsafe muse, ‘Tilly’ his dog. To establish this effect Hayball subjects his pencils to Bockingford watercolour paper, with his concentration solely on capturing the essence of the individual subject matter sat before him. Or on his sketchpad. Or in a photograph. Or his mind’s eye. You get the picture. Summing up this new approach and advent of a new material Hayball adds; "I am really enjoying this new way of working and am looking forward to taking on new animal subjects. I feel my work to date has only scratched the surface of my imagination and ideas. I am excited about new projects and possibilities that lie ahead”.

View All Art Works By Al Hayball