F. Donald Blake was born in Greenock, Renfrewshire in Scotland on 7th June 1908. At the age of two his parents moved to London. At the age of 13 he attended the Camberwell School of Arts and Craft. His father funded these studies for 18 months and at the age of 15 he went into a building trade drawing office where he was engaged as an architectural draftsman. During that time he studied 3 nights a week for 10 years at Goldsmiths College and Brixton School of Building. He eventually became the head of this drawing office.He worked on Swimming baths, Pub fronts and Cinemas. In World War II he worked for the Ministry of Information as a War Artist producing propaganda subjects.He worked for the Daily Express producing War Maps and Battle Impressions as well as freelancing in other areas.
At some point he designed carriage prints for the London and North-Eastern Railway (LNER), including images of Suffolk and Yorkshire. In the 1960’s he gave up working to became a full time painter. Elected RI, RSMA, NEAC and became President of the Wapping Group of Artists. He was a Member of the London Sketch Club and Chelsea Arts Club. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and principal London Exhibitions. His work has been the subject of special exhibitions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Rome. In 1971 he was given much critical acclaim as part of British Art during British Week in Hamburg. In 1981 he was the winner of the FBA Hunting Group £5000 prize for the best watercolour of the year, depicting a stormy harbour scene.He was fascinated by boats although a bad sailor. He was a member of, and eventually the President of the “Wapping Group” – 25 artists devoted to the River Thames. He died in 1997.
Information taken from: Mostly, an e-mail from Martyn Pearson; also Prorail.uk, ‘Prorail – Sheffield Auctions’, http://www.prorail.co.uk/auctions/sra/sra0303b.htm, accessed October 03 2003
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