Martin Leighton is a Dorset based artist known for his striking figurative paintings.

“Lost in Thought”


Is there a particular artist or artists that have influenced your figurative work?

I feel that all artists are influenced in some way by other artists work & I am no exception. I have created my own style capturing the contrast between light & dark & the fleeting moments of mood & atmosphere but I greatly admire the figurative works of John Singer Sargent, Ken Howard & Robert Lenkiewicz.  I strive to explore the challenges of light & shadow to create evocative & thought provoking images which are realistic yet not photographic.  I never tire of figurative painting as I find it satisfying to touch on the poignancy of personal moments and the inter-relationships that occur.

Wet Night in the City

Tell us more about your painting ‘Wet Night in the City’.  What techniques do you use to capture light and rain in this work?



Childhood memories of shopping with my Mum in the late afternoon of winter gave me the idea for this painting. At night just as the shops are closing, I feel that it creates a magical atmosphere as people begin to rush home either from work or their shopping trip.  Rain & light react together creating an illusion of mixed colours in the wet pavements as the shop lights cascade onto the street reflecting the brightness against the dark of the encroaching evening.  I used a hog hair brush with a mixture of Prussian Blue & Burnt Sienna oil paint but to create the reflective effect the under paint was lighter & then outlined with a darker shade.  Cadmium Yellow Pale & Titanium White were then added to show the brightness of the windows & reflections in the rain splattered street.  Perspective has been directed to the eye line vanishing point to capture light & rain in this scene.

“Giant of the African Bush”

“How did you set about creating ‘Giant of the African Bush’? Tell us more generally about your creative process?”

I was visiting Kruger Park in South Africa when a very large male elephant appeared from the bush with magnificent tusks.  He walked towards my vehicle & appeared to be curious but fortunately did not attempt to approach too close.  I am always intrigued by these large animals who can appear aggressive as they approach suddenly from the bush & yet can disappear very quickly & quietly.  However, this close encounter enabled me to take several photos which inspired me to create an oil painting as a way of recording part of my trip.  Rain downpours often happen unexpectedly which gave me the idea for the illusion of splashes of rain.  Painting wildlife is all about observation & I find it challenging to create the feeling that the animal is moving towards you capturing a moment in time transposed to canvas.   I greatly appreciate nature & animals so capturing the power of this elephant records a personal experience which I hope to encounter again.


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