It began well. Iain Holman's mother, pregnant with her third child, was gardening when she went into labour. "The midwife just happened to be passing by on her rounds and she quickly realised that the hospital was now out of the question."
Scottish artist Holman was born in the back bedroom. The doctor, who arrived soon afterwards, "spent his time admiring a Constable print on the bedroom wall". From then on, Holman's mother "believed I was going to be an artist because I was born beneath a Constable".
As a child, Holman would copy cartoon characters. "Around six years old, I had drawn a full marching band from a schoolbook and brought it in to show the teacher, but she didn't believe I did it. I think she thought that
"Teachers were tough back then."
Growing up in the small village Clachnaharry by the Moray Firth, with "a handful of children in each class", at Christmas each child was given a task. Holman, using poster paints, got to paint Christmas scenes on the school windows. "It was a huge thrill seeing your work lit up from the outside."
At secondary school in Inverness, Holman took seven art classes a week, mainly life drawing. Music, Pink Floyd, 10CC, Led Zeppelin, and surreal album cover artwork by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis fired his imagination as did "punk band names emblazoned in Dayglo broken-stencilled letters".
His career guidance teacher "knew little about art" and Holman thought "the best route for me would be a designer". At art college in Aberdeen, Holman focused on composition, typography and photography, worked in advertising - but slowly returned to painting. A master's degree in fine art meant a change of career, and he now paints full-time.
Early oil paintings were seascapes. He's painted horses and flowers but Holman is "first and foremost a portrait/figurative artist". People are "the most stimulating and challenging of all the subjects I've painted" and he works from both life and photographs.
"If the person is smiling, that's a good indication it is from a photograph. Painting a smile often looks stiff or frozen. Francis Bacon said he never succeeded to paint a smile."
In 'Listening to Side B' (courtesy The Doorway Gallery, Dublin), Holman's expressive brushwork captures Kai, his friends' son.
It began as a drawing directly onto the canvas. Then Holman added an acrylic cool blue base colour. "This base colour dictates the colour temperature of the painting and I often leave the base colour showing through in the finished painting.
"I then add oils on top of the acrylics and interactions start happening. A transparent red oil on top of the orange acrylic just zings, whereas the red on blue darkens as an overprint or as a shocking pink on a patch of white.
Six basic colours, white, yellow, red, light and dark blue, and black," says Holman, "make all the colours I need."
The title is "a trip down memory lane for people of a certain age who will remember listening to all the songs on one side of an album". And the music? "I think [the subject] is listening to Kasabian."
Holman paints what he sees and what he feels. He's done some self-portraits but mainly paints other people and would like to paint Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour, now in his 70s. His portraits, especially of young men, reveal a vulnerable, sensitive side. "If a sitter poses for a long time, you can see them start to relax. They get lost in their thoughts and that's the moment where the vulnerable, sensitive side is revealed."
What began well has been getting better ever since. Iain Holman is a "self-employed, independent" Scotsman and thinks independence would be a fitting model for Scotland too.
Ian Holman describes how the human figure found its place in his paintings in Oil & Acrylic