THE blood and guts of professional rugby would seem a world away from the subtle nuances of fine art.
However, London Welsh back-row forward Ed Williamson, 28, is looking to change that by developing a second contrasting career as a painter.
He may stand 6ft 3in tall, weigh in at 17st and enjoy dishing out big hits on the field, but art is very much in Williamson’s blood.
His dad and uncle, on his mum’s side, were both professional artists and owned shops specialising in traditional art, such as landscapes and seascapes.
“That’s the type of art I was brought up around and that’s where the passion lies,” said Williamson.
“I was always doodling when I was growing up. It gathered momentum during school and it’s something I’ve always been good at.”
It’s only since joining Welsh this season, however, that the former Newcastle Falcons man has been inspired to turn his hobby into a potential career.
Although a year out with a hand injury from February 2011 helped get him thinking about it.
“I’ve got this going over the past two or three months and it’s gathered quite a lot of pace quite quickly, which is good,” he said.
“I do most of my business from my Facebook page but I’m looking to get a website up and running and then hopefully things will move a bit quicker from there.”
While happy to oblige any commissions he receives, seascapes and landscapes are what draw Williamson’s eye - in keeping with his ‘traditional’ upbringing to art.
“I like big scenes, big landscapes, expressive colours,” he said.
“If you spoke to my mum she’d tell you that I’ve always been fascinated with sunsets – the way the light can hit clouds and create such magnificent colours.
“On the side, I really enjoy doing detailed pencil sketches,” he said.
Those commissions already include a picture of Banbury Castle for ex-Newcastle team-mate and current Northampton player Phil Dowson.
He has also catered for Welsh colleagues, including Ed Jackson, Greg Bateman and Adam Balding.
Williamson has even turned his brush to capturing Kew Gardens’ iconic Pagoda landmark, which overlooks Old Deer Park, the Exiles’ historic ground in Richmond.
“There is something very relaxing about sitting down and painting and drawing,” he said.
“Sometimes there’s a frustrating element when you can’t get something right, but you just keep working at it and eventually it will come right.
“It’s good for me because I’m quite an aggressive player and it calms me down a little bit.
“It’s a good release. You can’t be thinking about rugby 100 per cent of the time – you’d go insane.
“I’ve got a nice balance now with the kids, the wife, the rugby and now this. I’ve got a good weekly schedule.”
Having never previously thought of his art as a career, Williamson now finds the idea very appealing.
“That sounds like dream job to me,” he said.
“If I can get that going then that would be a perfect career for me after rugby.”
Williamson would love to emulate former England cricketer Jack Russell.
“He’s an exceptional talent,” said Williamson. “He’s a very traditional style artist – landscapes as well as cricketing scenes.
“He’s got a lovely little studio where he lives in Gloucestershire and he’s making upwards of £15-20k a picture.
“If I could get half close to that in ten years time then I’ll think I’d have done a good job. It’s about getting your work out there as much as you can.”
To see Williamson’s work visit his Facebook page: Ed Williamson Artwork