William Neal works from his studio in Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland.
Two main strands define his work. His landscape watercolours, evocations of light and the watery landscapes of Galloway, are small scale, intimate and poetic. Larger abstract works, often in series, and often in collaboration with musicians lead to more complex works where the music and art complement each other in the final piece.
Born in Guildford in 1947, William was brought up in the village of Bramley, Surrey. He gained a Diploma in Art and Design at the Guildford School of Art, and followed a diverse career in the graphic arts working for the BBC, Ulster Television, Pitman Publishing and C.C.S Associates, a leading design group in London’s West End. It was from C.C.S that he met Greg Lake, and went on to work for Emerson, Lake and Palmer producing cover designs for the two million selling albums ‘Tarkus’ and ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. His work was also used by other rock bands during this period such as Stone the Crows, Audience, The Mick Abrahams Band, the Upsetters and numerous reggae bands for Trojan Records (the Motown of Reggae).
From 1971 he concentrated on painting full time, holding many exhibitions until he met Stefan Knapp in 1978. This proved to be a major turning point in his career becoming Stefan’s studio assistant and close friend. Stefan’s influence as an internationally famous enamellist and painter together with his kindly direction and encouragement has laid the basis for all of William’s work today.
Although William’s work bears no resemblance to the scale of Stefan’s work, the studio discipline and long gradations of colour will always be hallmarks of this unlikely yet highly beneficial meeting. Stefan died in 1996.
Since the 1980s William has lived and worked in Dumfries and Galloway in south west Scotland. He has built a strong following for his landscape watercolours which reflect the lights and moods of the Galloway landscape. Moonlit landscapes are a defining subject and his painting Moonlit Dunes was chosen by musician Keith Emerson for his Three Fates album cover in 2012 - some forty years after working with him on the conceptual album covers for Tarkus and Pictures at an Exhibition. One of his original paintings for ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition also appears more recently on Working Live Vol 3 (The Carl Palmer Band, 2013). William has a large following for these landscape watercolours and originals when available tend to sell very quickly. However many have been made available as fine art prints and are generally available here. To date some 6000 fine art prints have been sold.
In recent years William has embarked on ambitious projects built around themes and techniques and often in collaboration with others. From 2007 with the series Marginal Movements shown at Gracefield Art Centre in Dumfries, he has continued this approach with Sylvan Droplet Variation, Iridescent Passages, and his current project Moods Indigo with musician Alan Cameron.
William began his career as a graphic designer/illustrator and this collaborative professional training has underpinned much of his successful career as an artist leading him to work in many ways with others - from his album cover work in the ‘70s, to large scale enamel installations with Stefan Knapp, to his continuing cross-media partnerships today.