A DUNTOCHER man is relishing life after taking the leap and re-dedicating most of his time to his life-long passion for drawing and painting.

Psychiatric nurse Michael Friel worked in the intensive care unit at Gartnavel Royal Hospital for 21 years as a charge nurse, but after going part-time three years ago in the rehabilitation ward, he decided to join Faifley Art Group.

In the time since, the 51-year-old, who originally studied photography for two years at college, has enjoyed evolving as an artist and experimenting with new techniques and mediums.

In particular he had developed his love for portraiture as he finds the human face and form fascinating, “allowing a wealth of interpretation and interaction for the artist and viewer of the work”.

He told the Post: “From a very early age, it was something I had always wanted to do, the only thing I really want to do.

“The Faifley Art Group has helped me to chat to other people like myself that like doing art and it’s quite reassuring to be around other artists having the same struggles with their work.

“I have always liked doing portraits and continue to do so as I like capturing the likeness. I used to draw the odd family member when I was younger and have gone on to do Victorian portraits, which are nicely lit and I try to emulate these.

“I do do the occasional landscape, but I’ve really got an appetite [for portraiture] now and want to try new mediums and new subjects. Anyone can do art. If you’ve got a bit of skill and find a niche, you will probably surprise yourself.”

Michael, who works from a studio at his home, has undertaken a number of commissions for private clients and has produced promotional art work for business clients.

He has had his work exhibited in a number of charity exhibitions, including ones for Christian Aid and St John’s Ambulance, where he sold two pieces of his work, and at exhibitions at Awestruck Gallery in Clydebank and for the Faifley Art Group at the Backdoor Gallery in Dalmuir.

Michael also attends the Milngavie Art Club and three of his portraits are currently being showcased at an exhibition at the Lily Art Gallery in Milngavie, which runs until the end of this month.

He added: “If you are fully committed to art, the options are endless, you can do a lot of experimenting and learn new skills as you go.

“My hopes are to do more and to improve and hopefully it would be nice to make a living out of it as every artist dreams about that. But it’s not the be all and end all and I will do it regardless.

“To anyone thinking of taking it up, I would say just stop thinking about it and do it. Put pencil to paper and keep on doing it.

“I met someone last week at Milngavie Art Club and she saw my work in Awestruck and said she was impressed. It’s a nice feeling when people like your work and it’s nice networking other artists.

“It’s a big step to make for a lot of people and it was for me. I think like most people life gets in way and then you get to a certain age and realise you need to pursue what you want to pursue.”

For more information about Michael and his work visit Michaelfrielartist.com. Faifley Art Group meets at Skypoint on Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm. Anyone interested in joining should contact Christine on 01389 876935.