GERRY Halpin has been capturing the world around him in his paintings all his adult life.

Now, at an age when most people are enjoying a pleasant retirement, Gerry is still doing what he loves: painting pictures. “Every day there is something in my head I need to paint,” he explained. “It just pops in”

His fans would be grateful for that continued urge to paint.

It’s not unusual when you know his history as he became used to the smell of oils on canvas early in his childhood.

Born in Bolton, he grew up in Blackrod where his father, an engineer, loved to paint in his spare time.

“I used to watch over his shoulder so I suppose I was always used to the idea of painting,” added Gerry.

His grandparents often took him and his two brothers on walks around Rivington and this started a love of this particular area which later proved pivotal to his work.

He went to primary school in Horwich and then to Rivington and Blackrod High School.

Gerry describes himself as “not academic” although he appreciated the school’s rural setting and admitted “looking out of the window a lot at the birds and the countryside there rather than getting on with my work".

He enjoyed art and he gained this at GCE along with geography, but when he left school he had a variety of jobs before deciding to take his career in hand.

As a result, he went to Horwich College to improve his GCEs before going to Chorley College to take teacher training and gain a degree.

His first post was teaching all subjects at Hindley County Secondary School before he took a job as art teacher back at Rivington and Blackrod High School.

“I fitted in easily here and always enjoyed it,” he recalled.

In fact, when the Head of Art position became vacant, Gerry moved into that role and was at the school for a total of 16 happy years.

However, by the time he started teaching he had already started painting regularly in his spare-time.

He would come home from school and paint usually between 8pm and 10pm each evening, often inspired by the different scenes at Rivington.

His work became popular and, inevitably, Gerry had to make a choice between painting and teaching; painting won out.

He left Rivington School and began painting from the Adlington home he shared with wife Pam.

“Leaving was a bit scary, really,” he stated. “But it was something I had to do.

"I’d loved teaching – I still see pupils I taught today – but I had to paint and I had to give it more time.”

From home he had a small studio on a trading estate in Horwich and then, 16 years ago, he moved into Victoria House on Victoria Road where his colourfully cluttered studio is still situated today.

While his landscapes initially made his reputation as a talented artist, Gerry’s work and career have evolved.

He won an award as Outstanding Painter in the Royal Institute of Oil Painters’ annual open exhibition in London and has regularly exhibited there for the past five years.

He works on a wide variety of commissions but has also had work included in many exhibitions.

He is President of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, which has a membership of more than 100 artists and a distinguished history that included L S Lowry as a member and Winston Church as an honorary trustee.

His abstracts are now equally well-known, especially paintings created by sketches Gerry has made on plane journeys.

“I’m fascinated by the way the land and the sea come together,” he stated.

The resulting pictures have found their way all over the country.

Gerry stopped working in acrylics and these days works in oils, using a palette knife.

“I’m influenced by all kinds of people like Cezanne, Matisse and American painter Mark Rothko,” he said. “I love the freedom of painting and getting ideas from all sorts of places.”

And with that, it was back to the palette knife and the oils and a stunning view from above a coastline.