I first used newspaper as a support for drawing because it was paper that was free. There was no conceptual framework beyond the realisation that, while being in low paid work, there was no justification in paying the same amount of money for ‘artist’ quality drawing paper as for several day’s food for the young family I was bringing up.
At the end of any day I could find newspapers left on a bus seat or waiting room table; this was paper for sketching, doodling, messing around and perhaps working out ideas for paintings. You might also be interested to know that some of my paintings (even into my thirties) were made on old bed sheets, stretched and glued to hardboard – because canvas was also prohibitively expensive.
Occasionally there might be a headline that chimed with an idea I was drawing and I would play along with it – inspired by the artwork of Gee Vaucher (CRASS) and Winston Smith (Dead Kenndys) in my record collection, but generally I considered them disposable drawings. Some of these drawings I gave away, but most were thrown away. I didn’t think anybody would want sketches on newspaper. Galleries weren’t interested in my paintings throughout the 80s and 90s so they certainly weren’t going to be interested in drawings on newspaper by an unknown artist from a small rural town in north Somerset.
Shortly into a new century, and a new and growing collector interest in art that referenced punk vandalism, street paste-ups, text and newspaper collage and suddenly I find my work is fashion. Galleries are taking anything and everything that survived frequent clean outs and bonfires. Buyers are asking specifically for more drawings on newspaper.
So that’s where it came from for me. An aesthetic choice initiated by an economic necessity. Here’s some of that work over the years.

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  1. Mr Denning, for the past 4 yrs or so I’ve explored so much of your work online, and these pieces on newspaper are, frankly, some of your best work. Enjoyed reading your explanation of how/why you ever picked up old newspaper to paint on, and I’m reminded of the old saying…’Necessity is the Mother of invention’….indeed! I’m thankful to be able to see/enjoy your work. Thank you. // Jan Lester


    Liked by 1 person

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