MARTIN Snook has gone from the dole queue to the art gallery in Bognor Regis.
Martin has his first works on show in an art exhibition and enjoyed his first sales from such a display.
Four of his unique paintings, created on old roof slates, can be seen in the window of the Cloudhopper Gallery.
“I’ve sold three pieces in a week. It’s very encouraging that people like what I do and it’s marvellous to see my work in the window.”
Martin, 46, of Havelock Road, spent six months on the dole earlier this year after his previous job as a carpenter was badly hit by the recession.
He always enjoyed painting at school but instead decided to pursue a career in joinery.
But his time signing on saw him enter the government’s Enterprise Allowance scheme to help him to achieve a change in his life and rekindle his enthusiasm for art.
This saw him attend an eight-week course to put together a business plan for life as an artist.
It also enabled him to receive £60 a week for 13 weeks and £30 for 13 weeks and have his rent paid to ease his transition from the dole back into working life.
He has been given the invaluable help of a mentor as well. “That’s the most important part,” said Martin, 46, of Havelock Road. “They have taken me through how to set up a business.
“As an artist, that’s not something you know how to do.
“My mentor has been brilliant and so helpful.”
Martin’s favourite medium is oil pastel on the slates about 10ins X 20ins.
Each can take him about four hours to create after a neighbour suggested he put some old slates in his garden to an artistic use.
These seascapes have captured the imaginations of visitors to the gallery’s autumn exhibition.
He has also been asked to supply eight paintings for sale at the rock shop on Bognor seafront. He has hopes for his first exhibition at the gallery early next year with slates from a friend’s roof.
“I’m really hoping the art will take off,” said Martin.
“That will enable me to carry on painting for a long time.
“I love the sea and I never want to move away from it. It fascinates me how different it looks every time you see it.”
Martin sold some portraits when he was painting while he worked in the construction industry.
The autumn exhibition continues at the High Street gallery until November 25.