If you spend time in Oxted, it is possible you already know Max White. He has lived there all his life, attending Oakhyrst Grange and the Hawthorns School, and he may well have served you a cappuccino when he worked in a local coffee shop. In recent months, however, it is more likely you have spotted him in Master Park, paintbrush in hand, creating one of the plein air landscapes he is today fast becoming renowned for.
(Painting of Master Park by Max White)
Art has been part of Max’s life since childhood. His mum would give him and his brother notepads and pencils to keep them occupied, and he continued to draw and sketch in his free time as he grew up.
At Sevenoaks School, Max was encouraged by his art teacher to expand his range beyond drawing. Having spent time at many exhibitions during his childhood – the first he remembers attending was Canaletto, at the National Gallery – painting seemed the obvious choice, with oils his preferred medium:
“I jumped right into it, doing six by five foot paintings from photographs: the first was of the Strand. Then, at the school’s end-of-year art exhibition, when I was 17, I met the owner of the Grierson Gallery, in Sevenoaks, and she signed me.”
Although it was recommended that he attend art school, Max’s skill for finely detailed line drawings drew him towards an architecture degree at Cardiff University. Continuing to paint in the holidays, he passed his finished artworks to the Grierson: they all sold.
Two years ago Max, now 23, was motivated by a fellow artist to read up on art history and painting techniques. He began tackling still life, before venturing out to the Surrey Hills and capturing the ever-changing light on multiple four by five inch canvase, in single sessions. Later, he set up his easel in Oxted, attracting the attention of many passers-by.
Citing painters Ken Howard and Peter Brown as major influences on his work, Max now spends the majority of his time painting London scenes:
“There’s always something happening: light, people, action. You can’t paint something boring.”
Max works with a Highgate gallery, and has featured in several exhibitions at the Mall Gallery, London, this year. He has also just been selected to exhibit there again in November, this time with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
See Max’s artwork on Instagram: @maxwhiteartist