Sailing from water to watercolours...

Preesall artist Bert Stenning will be having an exhibition of his work in Garstang.

Preesall artist Bert Stenning will be having an exhibition of his work in Garstang.

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A RETIRED naval officer has returned to his first love – art.

Bert Stenning gave up art school in Lancaster when he joined the Royal navy aged 17.

But after 10 years on the waves – and a further 27 years in the police force – Bert, now 69, is about to stage his sixth exhibition.

He said: “When I was a teenager I gave up the tuition and my job as a butcher’s boy to join the navy.

“I served on several ships which took me to various parts of the world including the Arctic regions and the Far East.

“Three of the paintings in the exhibition are of ships on which I have served.”

As well as painting ships, Bert, of Rosslyn Crescent East, Preesall, enjoys drawing trams and steam trains.

He said: “I never lost the passion to paint but while working it was more difficult to exhibit.

“As a police officer I had to ask the chief superintendent’s permission to display my work.

“It was seen as a second income and trying to get approval was like being on trial.”

Bert will display more than 40 of his paintings in his latest exhibition at the Arts Centre in Garstang which starts on Tuesday July 5.

Although he has ditched the railway scenes, preferring to paint Lancashire landscapes in gouache and watercolour – steam railways will once again be displayed in his show.

They will feature alongside scenes of sailing craft and war ships and trams.

He said: “It is getting more and more difficult to paint the trains and trams.

“I used to watch the trains go by and make quick sketches but I later mainly painted from pictures.

“Trams are extremely difficult because of the reflections bouncing off the glass – there is a lot of detailed work.”

Bert’s exhibition is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for a month.