Celebrating the tractor as a piece of art for generations to com

Celebrating the tractor as a piece of art for generations to com

by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer

I'm taking you on a completely different track in Cornel Clecs this month! To a world that is completely new to me to be honest! For someone who is not artistic at all, the world of Art and Illustration has always amazed me and I often wonder where an artist's inspiration comes from to create a piece of art.

One who has recently come to the attention of Cornel Clecs is Stephen Owen, an artist from north Ceredigion who commissions artwork on a customer's favourite vehicle which is then painted on a background based on a landscape that is special to them. One particular piece of work, 'On a Roll!' (see in the picture above) caught our attention, which shows Stephen's neighbour's tractor against a background above the Dyfi estuary, and tries to portray the urgency of collecting bales before the rain.

But what else inspires Stephen and his work, and how much influence does agriculture have on him? Cornel Clecs had the opportunity to ask him recently:

What is the inspiration for your paintings?

Whilst there are many impressive Automotive Artists out there today, it is the striking work of Tom Purvis (UK), A.M. Cassandre (France) and other Art Deco poster artists of the 1930’s, that excite me.  The irresistible nature of an Art Deco Poster has always captivated me with the simple lines and bold colours. In particular, transport themes, where movement and speed are conveyed through a few simple lines.

Have agriculture and agricultural vehicles always played an important part in your work?

Not particularly but, as a designer, I have always been in awe of agricultural machinery and the way a design has evolved to do the job for which it is intended.  Whilst I’m not interested in painting a derelict tractor in the corner of a field, I do find myself getting excited when I see one and I photograph it. I guess deep down I respect these great machines of the past that are the forerunners of today’s farm equipment.

From an artistic perspective, how important is the Dyfi estuary and surrounding countryside to your work?

When I was a boy growing up in Newtown I would come by train to the coast during my school holidays and lean out of the window to just drink in the views. My love for this part of Wales goes back a long way and I never tire of it.  Overlooking the Dyfi estuary is where I now live and it is a constant source of inspiration.  My most recent painting, ‘On a Roll’ features our neighbour carrying bales out of our field with the background of the Tarren Hills rising above the estuary. This captures the essence of life on the land as it happens right in front of me.

What does agriculture mean to you?

My mother thought I would become a farmer as I have always been drawn to the farming way of life.  All my father’s family and relatives were farmers. My grandfather was in charge of farm horses in the Llanidloes area.  I live in the middle of the green industry that goes on round the clock and appreciate the dedication and hard work that goes into farming the land and providing our food.  Romantic notions of quaint ways of life pale into insignificance when one observes the hard work and tasks that farmers are faced with these days.  In some small way I hope that with my pop art style of painting I can draw attention to the tractor as a symbol of farming and raise the profile of working the land for the good of us all.  I would love to make more pictures of people’s favourite tractor in their favourite place as each farming family is usually loyal to one make of tractor. It shows how attached farmers become to their tractor.  So many stories and much family history are locked away in these fantastic machines so why not celebrate the tractor as a piece of art for the generations to come?

Reading about Stephen's work is extremely interesting and emphasises just how much inspiration comes from what surrounds us in all different aspects of our life.  Agriculture certainly touches the lives of people from all walks of life and work, and is a special inspiration.

Good luck to Stephen with his future work, and who knows, maybe your tractor will be on canvas next!

If you would like to contact Stephen his email address is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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