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 Peter Kenneth Worsley  (1929 - )

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: landscape, portrait, crowd scenes, picture stories

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Ad Code: 4
Peter Kenneth Worsley
Señor Ricardo
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following was submitted by the artist:

Art Career

My serious art career began in 1996, when I retired, after some fifty years in industry. I was able to pursue my growing desire to become an artist-painter. I was lucky to be living in Santa Barbara, California, because the area has a long artistic tradition in the visual arts, and many wonderful artists who teach as part of the local adult education programs.

After some exploration, initially I chose to work in watercolor. Everyone told me it was "the more difficult medium" but that only made it a greater challenge. But, studying art and art history is a never-ending process, with always more to discover and skills to hone. From studio painting I went outside and tried my hand at painting the landscape "en plein air." But I found a great desire to include people in my scenes.

To improve my skills, I took many classes in painting the figure, both indoors and out. Eventually arriving at today, where I paint primarily portraits, both solo models and people in groups. Plus, I continue to enjoy painting crowd scenes, where I capture people in action, going about their lives. Today, I paint mostly in oil or gouache. My paintings may be viewed in my private studio and gallery, and in other galleries around the Santa Barbara area.


Born in a western suburb of London, England, in 1929, I was brought up during the depression, and World War II. As a small boy, I carried around a small notebook to record my thoughts and to sketch out ideas. As a Boy Scout, I developed instruction sheets containing hundreds of flag waving little cartoon characters, to teach my fellow scouts semaphore (a method of signaling using flags) to my scout colleagues.

When a child, I was largely home schooled, yet somehow obtained a scholarship to a very prestigious West London private high school, Latymer Upper School. I was there during the war and looking back, all my teachers must have either come out of retirement to teach, or were otherwise deferred from military service due to some defect!

Early Artwork

My earliest significant artwork was produced while at this school. It was the mid-1940's and I created some award winning poster designs to promote Saving Stamps (Saving Bonds). Also, I had a continuing interest in stage lighting and built and demonstrated model theatres where I experimented in painting the stage and backdrops with colored light.

After graduating from high school I was immediately drafted into the Royal Air Force and trained in radar and electronics. Upon leaving the Air Force in 1950, I joined the North London research laboratories of a large company Elliott Brothers - long since merged into even bigger conglomerates. While there, I studied at London University every evening and one full day a week, graduating in 1953. During this same period, the company put me through a comprehensive hands-on apprenticeship program. These experiences and skills have been put to use many times throughout my life.


In 1956, a small Southern California company approached me to come to work at their facility in Santa Monica. I accepted and started the process of obtaining a visa. During this time, I met my wife-to-be at a public dance near London. We became engaged, and a year later she joined me in California. We moved to Malibu and lived in a tiny apartment, right on the beach. While there I began experimenting with acrylic painting on board. But work pressures kept me from continuing until after I retired in 1996. Apart from a few paintings I gave away, all this early work was lost in a 1990 house fire. My serious painting only began after retirement.

While employed and sometimes while self-employed, I worked, mostly, in the marketing and sales of '"high-tech" products and services. In 1968 we moved briefly to San Diego, then moving again to Santa Barbara in 1970. When I finally retired in 1996, I was able to study with some of the many wonderful artists who teach as part of the Santa Barbara adult education programs.

To better understand the basics of painting, I took an 18-month cycle of classes on art theory, offered by local watercolor artist Cathy Quiel. This was followed by periods of studio studies and critiques, figure drawing, and plein air drawing and painting under local artists including John Iwerks, Paula Sandefur, Duane Unkefer, Jorgen Hansen, Chris Chapman, Jim Armstrong, Thomas Van Stein, and Michael Drury.

Active in the local art community, I am a Past President of both the Santa Barbara Art Association and the Goleta Valley Art Association, a member of the Santa Barbara Studio Artists, The Los Padres Watercolor Society, and of SCAPE (the Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment), a Patron Member of the California Art Club, and a Founder and Director of the Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance. Santa Barbara Tours de Arte - a private company that arranges tours of Artist's Studios, represents my Studio and private Gallery.

Today and The Future

While painting with watercolor, Peter gradually began introducing opaque gouache. Finding this media very satisfying, for several years he produced many gouache paintings, mainly on board.

His scene paintings are in the style of late period Social Realism (Norman Rockwell), but brought into the 21st Century. Their brightness and color draws in the viewer with their vibrancy.

For many years he has included people in his paintings. To him, people add life. Landscapes, while often beautiful, somehow seemed lacking in reality without people. He frequently depicts human interactions, often with a back story.

Active in the local art community, Peter is a Past President of both the Santa Barbara Art Association and the Goleta Valley Art Association, a member of the Santa Barbara Studio Artists, and a Founder and Director of the Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance.

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