Whilst doodling at work (I was articled to a Chartered Accountant) I was already using alternate shading on some drawings. I realised that if you initially shaded one outer area on a continuous line drawing, and then worked alternately through the doodle, all outside areas became shaded. Bridget Riley’s Optical Art (or Op Art) in black and white, with its shimmering effect, suddenly appeared in the early 1960’s. I started black alternate shading on some of my new figurative drawings. I now realise that most of Op Art was abstract to make the most of the effect, whereas I was doing animals, people and landscapes.
To extend the scope of my continuous line drawings, along with the alternate shading, I had a go at a landscape based upon the countryside where I grew up near Ripon and called it Skelldale. I could walk along the banks of the River Skell upstream to Fountains Abbey.
An exception to the abstraction in Op Art was Zebras (in 1937) by Victor Vaserely, in which he used the black and white stripes of intertwined zebras, and it was one of the very first Op Art pictures. He then became largely abstract in the 1950’s. He was unknown to me until several years after I started in 1965.
This was In about 1971 when I walked past Christies Auction house in London, when taking my pictures to an exhibitions agent, and I saw through a window some black and white abstract drawings which had a similarity to mine. I went in and was amazed at the variety of drawings, so many having aspects which I had experimented with. The lowest estimate was £14 and I considered leaving a bid, but I decided that it was a lot of money (then) and that I had similar ones at home (stupid boy). A week or so later I read in the newspaper that Vaserely had been selected to design the emblem for the next Olympic Games (1974). I should have left that bid !