Plumber turned painter’s pictures

Artist John Pettitt has a new exhibition at Hucknall Library.
Artist John Pettitt has a new exhibition at Hucknall Library.

A retired plumber from Hucknall has swapped wrenches for paintbrushes and unveiled an exhibition of paintings based on the classic film Gone with the Wind.

John Pettitt’s collection of eight pictures, inspired by the famous Civil War-era drama, are on display at Hucknall Library until the end of August.

He took up painting after he retired from plumbing five years ago and has been pleasantly surprised by the positive comments his paintings have produced so far.

“I did have a go at painting about 30 years ago, but it only lasted six months,” he said.

“I started doing a GCSE but I was working away at the time so I had to pack it in. I started painting last year.

“I love the film Gone With The Wind. I first saw it a year ago - my sister got the DVD for her birthday and I watched it.

“It was made in 1939 and at the time it was the most expensive film ever made.

“The colours are fantastic in it. Technicolour films look a lot better and brighter. Modern films tend to be too perfect.”

John paused particular scenes that caught his eye and took photographs of them to use as the basis for his paintings.

He is a big fan of the film’s ‘tiny details’ which make you think ‘the film was made last week.’

And the subject of the film has sparked another new interest in American history.

“The American Civil War interests me,” he said. “There were more Americans killed there than in the first and second wars.

“There were such a lot of casualties - 18,000 men were killed on one day alone.”

Inspired by the vivid Technicolour images of the film, John started researching the film as well as the period.

His favourite picture from the eight he has completed shows the bombardment of Atlanta.

He said: “The city is ablaze! That’s the one that people think is the best. One or two people have said they are pretty good. They’re not bad!”

John, 71, of Occupation Road, off Farley’s Lane, was a plumber for over fifty years until his retirement at the age of 66.

He started out working on hospital contracts before moving to John Players and then turned self-employed.

The paintings were done in acrylic, but John is currently attending a watercolours class.

He said: “I am a bit of a student. I am just learning all the time.”

John is married to Yvonne, who hails from the Isle of Wight, and will be familiar to Dispatch readers from Pettitt’s Diner, which she ran for five years on Derbyshire Lane.

Now John is contemplating another film to make his subject.

He said: “I do fancy the idea of Zulu!

“There are some scenes which you can freeze!”