Dave Watson, “Spiritually Tutored” Artist: Photographer Receives Painting Lessons While Unconscious

Dave Watson (who trained at Derby University) had worked hard to perfect his photography. His work was excellent, but financial success – as with many artists – did not automatically follow.

Sometimes adversity is a “cloud with a silver lining”. It was bizarre experience during a heart attack that finally propelled him into a successful professional artistic career – and also helped him to change his artistic medium.

Spirit of Kirill Sokolov?

One of the things that Dave remembers on the night of his heart attack was a very unusual visitor. He vividly remembers his deceased friend, Kirill Sokolov (a highly rated Russian artist who had died some years previously), coming to visit him and transforming his photographs into paintings.

The following two nights he had further weird – but wonderful – experiences. On the second night, all night long he saw colours. It seemed as if he were being taught all about the colours in nature “… the undercolour of a wave, my girlfriend’s eyes, leaves and flowers. It was really intense”.

On the third night his dreams were all about perspective. It seemed that now he was able to view a scene as a painter rather than a photographer.

The Recuperation

Morag Eaton, Dave’s partner in life and also a successful artist, decided that he needed to be distracted during the time of his recuperation. She came home one day and presented him with a set of acrylic paints –t a medium that he had not worked with before.

For the first day or two Dave experimented and played with them and then an amazing thing happened. “Almost immediately I seemed to take to it like a duck to water” Dave later commented. Since then he has been painting prolifically and has staged, along with Morag Eaton, successful exhibitions. Dave was thrilled, but also slightly appalled that his paintings were selling like hot cakes while his photographs had been previously ignored.

Kirills’s Influences

Whenever Dave is stuck he simply thinks back to the three nights when he received his master class in painting and he finds the answer he needs.

His experience has also given him a new perspective on life – and death, which he no longer fears. Dave still feels that the spirit of his friend Kirill (who was a devout Christian and member of the Russian Orthodox Church) is hovering around him, making sure that he is ok.

“I can see Kirill’s influence Dave’s work, which is quite remarkable really” comments Morag Eaton.

The Inspiration of Nature

Dave Watson has always drawn his inspiration for his photography from the place where he grew up – the area around Tyneside, North Eastern England. Now he uses his new found talents in capturing the spirit of his beloved South Yorkshire countryside in paint. It doesn’t have to be chocolate box perfection; in fact, for Dave the wilder the better.


Dave Watson is a recent prize winner at Thoresby Art Gallery, Newark in Nottinghamshire, UK, and is currently exhibiting in other galleries.