Views on Painting

If Fred Yates had a hero it would have been Jean Francois Millet and he worked tirelessly to promote Millet’s work. Armed with a lantern slide projector and a large collection of black and white slides Fred regularly gave talks on his favourite artist. He was also a frequent lecturer at Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside illustrating his talks by sketching on the walls of the lecture room.

Fred particularly admired the work of Matthew Maris.  Born in the Netherlands, Maris settled in London specializing in landscape painting and etching. What linked these artists from different continents was a shared desire to use art to express the power and beauty of nature.

Fred Yates, painting
by Rydal Water.

For his own work Fred used mainly pastels and oils. He believed pastels were particularly good for depicting expressions and oils allowed him to paint ‘the reality of nature.’ On a trip to America in 1911 he experimented with tempera. Writing home, his enthusiasm for this medium leaps from the page:

I am in love with tempera more than I ever was. It has its drawbacks but for richness and clearness of colour and keying one up to paint light it is invaluable - / wish I had known of it many years ago.

Whatever the medium Fred chose, the objective was always to reveal what his artist eyes saw.

Transferring the artist’s vision to paper was not always easy and for Fred it could only be achieved through a lifetime of concentrated effort, “...nature has to be wooed to be won and she is jealous and hides away if you don’t give your life to her - it is the only way”

After Fred’s death his great friend and fellow artist Frank Carter wrote, “It seemed with him, more than with anyone I ever knew, as though nothing intervened between his inspiration and its expression.” For Fred this would have been the ultimate compliment.


From notes for an the Exhibition at the Armitt Museum, Ambleside, November 2001 to February 2002. John Hodkinson, Hart Head Cottage, September, 200