My granddad is a master artist.

That’s how I always introduce him to people. Neville Stanyer – the master artist.

You give Granddad a pen, a piece of wood, some paper and paint and he can create magic.

With a granddad like Neville Stanyer, is it a surprise I believe that you should never step in a fairy ring, and that if you find a four-leaved clover you’ll be blessed with good luck?

The bubble master himself

I’ve seen magic for real. I’ve grown up around it. I regularly talked to the dragon at the bottom of his garden.

I have one very strong memory of my Granddad. Lying in bed, warm from a bath. I must have been quite small because he was still a towering giant of a man, full of smiles and loud singing and sneezes that could be measured on the Richter scale. He had a book – Enid Blyton’s Brer Rabbit Stories. He’s reading it to my sister and me. When Granddad tells a story, he tells it.

As he reads from the book, it comes to life. Every character has a unique voice. I still remember the rough deep grumble of Brer Bear and the slow, trembling voice of Brer Terrapin. Granddad leaps around, acting out scenes, we laugh as he drops the book in a particularly wild moment. Then, the story is over. The light is off and I’m falling asleep. But Granddad’s Brer Rabbit – crafty, sneaky and never one to be outwitted – stays with me.

I think back on the memories I’ve got of Granddad and I struggle to find one without a smile or a laugh; without a grand tale; without an intense love of life in all its forms. Neville Stanyer sees the beauty of things, and is blessed with the ability to share that beauty.

I’m blessed to be his grandson. I’m looking back on what I’ve written now and I can’t help but wonder why I thought I ever had a chance of being something other than an artist. When you’ve got a granddad like Neville, your life is filled with magic and an artist’s job is sharing magic.

And boy, have I got some tricks up my sleeve. I’ve been taught by the best.

Granddad, thank you for everything. Thank you for your love and support (even if you never really understood what I was up to – I still haven’t figured it out myself). Thank you for your jokes, your laughs, your smiles.

Thank you for your art.

Thank you for everything.

Rest well.

Love, Richard.

Me, surrounded by my Granddad’s art books and hand-written lessons on calligraphy. There were hundreds more in his house, but this is my little collection. The book next to my head is Enid Blyton’s Brer Rabbit Stories, the same one from which he used to read to me.