Lullaby - Dion Salvador Lloyd

Dion Salvador Lloyd Profile

Words by Jenni Davidson

You would think that being called after Salvador Dali would put a lot of pressure on an artist, but Dion Salvador Lloyd seems comfortable taking his own path. Although artist isn’t a word he’s happy using in relation to himself.

“I’m not an artist. I’m a painter,” he says. “I don’t like the word artist. It’s something you earn. I don’t call myself an artist.”

The Hove-based landscape painter isn’t comfortable hanging out with other artists talking about art. He’s more interesting in just getting on with it.

Lloyd hasn’t come from a conventional art college background and other than at school, he has never studied art. After failing O-level art – an exam he was tipped to get an A in – Lloyd didn’t pick up a paintbrush for another 15 years. It was only after a trip through the Middle East in his 30s that he felt called back to painting.

Because he lives near the sea and many of his paintings have a stormy look about them, people often assume Dion Salvador Lloyd’s paintings are seascapes, but they aren’t.

He describes his works as ‘global paintings’; they are landscapes, but they’re not any specific landscape.

“They’re little journeys. They can be what you want them to be.”

He loves photography and has boxes of photos filed away, but he doesn’t use them to work from.

“I don’t go into my studio with images of things that I like: ‘Oh, that’s a nice mountain scene in Scotland’,” he says. “I work very spontaneously.”

The landscapes are more about feelings that a literal recreation of a location and music plays a big part in that. The paintings are an emotional response to what he listens to.

“I can’t just go to the studio and put on background music. I stick to my favourites. I stick to my Nick Cave, David Sylvain, Talk Talk.”

“I love sad music. The emotional moment just pulls you,” he says.

Nature is another big influence.

“Since an early age I was always fascinated by nature. I never had cars and action men. In don’t even remember watching telly.” He always had sticks and stones and feathers in his pockets, he says, and still does.

“I’ve always got things in my pockets. Things from places I’ve visited. I’d rather that than fridge magnets.”

He still gets excited about going to the studio to see what he’s done the day before and has as many as 40 unfinished canvases on the go at one time.

Talking to Dion Salvador Lloyd, ‘journey’ is a word that comes up again and again. He doesn’t want to keep on doing the same work. “You can’t just be stuck in the rut,” he says.

“If you go to my website and look at my work, they’re like different painters. You could say ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ but for me painting is about discovery. If you’re making the same work day in day out for years, you’re not respecting yourself.”

For a while he painted landscapes with smooth giant skies inspired by the American landscape, but after a trip to the US to fulfil a lifelong ambition to see the Grand Canyon his style changed.

His current work is more rough and textured and he has also recently been working with oil on paper, the happy result of a contribution to a Martlets fundraiser where he had to get the painting right first time on the piece of paper they gave him.

It would probably have been better commercially to continue with those American landscape paintings, he says. They’re ‘safe’ and people can see what they are. But he can’t paint for that reason.

“I have to listen to my heart. It’s where I am right now. I’ve never felt richer in my heart. But I’m poorer than I’ve ever been.”