Born in Kent in 1957 Mike Bernard trained at the West Surrey College of Art & Design, Farnham, followed by postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy Schools.
Since then he has exhibited widely at galleries around the UK, at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, Mall Galleries and Royal Festival Hall; being the recipient of numerous awards and prizes such as the Stowells Trophy, the Elizabeth Greenshield Fellowship, the Silver Longboat Award and Laing Award. Mike was elected a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1997 and was awarded the society's Kingsmead Gallery Award at their annual exhibition in 1999.
Mike's paintings combining mixed media, collage, acrylics and pastel are immediately recognisable. He has developed a highly original and appealing style of his own in which he excels in interpretation of his chosen subject enjoying capturing the mood of the setting without being constrained by spatial accuracy or adherence to standardised colour palettes.
In his early career (1980 - 1999) Mike Bernard held various teaching posts at West Surrey College of Art and Design and Southampton Institute of Higher Education among others. It was during this time that he made the transition from oil paintings to the celebrated collage style, adopting mixed media including cuttings from printed material to enhance the impact.
This came about while training students, who he noticed had great difficulty making the first marks on a blank canvas. To ease this, he suggested they wander the streets and find newsprint, old packets or tickets from which to make cuttings, and then glue them in bold shapes to the canvas. These clearly released their creative energies producing highly original and appealing results, a feat that inspired Mike to adopt the technique himself.
Mike's initial starting point is to collect on the spot sketches - subjects will vary from harbour coastal scenes to street and market scenes and occasional still life. He is selective when describing detail, wanting to portray only the essence of the subject.
Back in the studio he starts the paintings, (surfaces can include, paper, board and canvas), with layers of paper collage, newspapers, tissue, leaflets, magazines etc, glueing with acrylic medium. Bernard creates shapes which relate to the abstract structure of the subject. When the glue is dry, he applies acrylic ink in bold random strokes which encourages wonderful colour and textural.
From this state of chaos he endeavours to definite the subject through various drawing techniques, to a finished stage where the subject has recognisable passages, but at the same time retain a semi- abstract, impressionistic feel, engaging the viewers imagination. According to Mike 'this method allows the picture to evolve their own personality as they progress, which avoids them becoming over-representational.'
Mike now paints almost exclusively in mixed media, combining collage, acrylics and pastel. He enjoys the way textures, shapes, colour and ‘happy accidents’ steer the direction of his paintings.
- Elizabeth Greenshields Fellowship 1981 and 1987 (Royal Academy)
- David Murray Studentship 1978/80/81 (Royal Academy)
- 1STPrize Stowells Trophy 1981 (Royal Academy)
- British Institute Prize (Royal Academy)
- Lanseer Prize (Royal Academy)
- 'Highly Commended Award’, Silver Longboat Exhibition, Portsmouth City Art Gallery, 1990
- ‘Landscape Painting Award’, Laing, 1993
- ‘Kingsmead Gallery Award’, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, 1999
- ‘Stuart Defries Award’, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, 2003
- ‘Lincoln Joyce Gallery Award’, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, 2007
- The Ranelagh Press Award RI 2009