A building firm boss has held his first art exhibition – after just three months of painting classes.
John Esslemont turned to art as a way to unwind from his busy life refurbishing and building homes, but soon discovered he had a natural gift for oil painting.
The father-of-three also farms on the land where he lives near Sauchen in Aberdeenshire, so was keen to take up a hobby to help him relax at the end of the day.
Mr Esslemont initially attended a three month art class at a local community hall at Midmar with his daughter-in-law, Susan, then decided to learn the basics at home.
It was not until he showed friends examples of his work at a BBQ last year that he finally decided to devote more time to art.
Over the winter months, he tried to finish one painting every week and eventually had enough work to exhibit this year.
And his debut into the art world has been a huge success – selling 10 of his landscape paintings so far.
Mr Esslemont, managing director of Monarch Developments, said: “Once I had all my paintings framed and up on the wall, I didn’t know what people would think about them.
“But the comments were good and really kind. Everyone seemed really genuine about them.
“Last year I decided to try and finish one painting a week. I just taught myself and worked away at it, using different ways to learn techniques by looking at some books and on the Internet.
“I am still in full-time work so am only painting two to three hours at a time in the evenings. I’ve got a wee room which gets a bit messy sometimes.”
Two of Mr Esslemont’s landscape paintings of Eilean Donan castle sold at the North East Open Studios (NEOS) exhibition in Aberdeenshire earlier this year, along with framed pictures of an old car on land next to his home and a stag.
He exhibited his work in a summer house in his garden, where natural light beamed in through the windows.
His work captures the picturesque rural area where he lives as well as stunning landscapes further afield from the Highlands and abroad.
The modest builder believes he still has a long way to go before he masters the art of painting.
“I’m still very much an amateur artist but I can see I’ve got some ability there to keep on learning and getting better,” he said.
“I definitely find painting relaxing. I run a building company which can be fairly intense.
“Instead of sitting in front of the TV I just go up to my room and just unwind with my art.
“It is a godsend almost. You put on music and do your art and you are away from everything else. It’s definitely a great thing and I would highly recommend it to anyone.”