An Interview with the Artist..

Why are you an artist?

Creativity simply drives me.
I love the act of creating something from nothing really and for some reason the world always seems a better place afterwards. Why am I an artist? It really isn’t something I can try and explain in just a few lines but I will say it is an extremely intoxicating, passionate and rewarding act for me which can be both a frustrating and exhilarating journey.
Brett Whiteley nailed it when he called it “a difficult pleasure”.

Could you tell me some more about your art?

I’ll try…
It seems to be evolving although I’m not sure where it is all leading at times. I like to move between various mediums but have a fondness for oil. I like to express parts of my own personality or interests within my paintings. I am fairly isolated from metropolitan art circles and am certainly not influenced by art trends. I tend to lean towards a figurative expression of some kind in my work and employ a sort of ‘to thine own self be true’ approach to what I do and paint.
You seem to enjoy working in different mediums using such things as oils, pastels and digital mediums. Do you just like variety or are there other reasons for the changes in medium?
I generally get a little stagnant or bored with my own work if I stay in the same place too long, so I like to keep moving. Also, some of my ideas simply call for a particular medium. My love of illustration and graphic art often draws me back to the line orientated mediums such as charcoal, pastel or even the computer since I use an electronic pen and tablet for some of my design or preliminary sketches these days. Experiment I say!
The trick is being able to retain your own style throughout the medium changes and knowing the limitations. Like music, I have a broad appreciation of many different forms of art and thankfully don’t have that blinkered approach where everything needs to be categorised, or you must stick to what you do best. I just let art lead me in all sorts of interesting directions and personally, I get just as much enjoyment out of looking at Robert Crumb cartoons as I do Goya or Rembrandt.

On Inspiration

I have produced hundreds of scribbles, sketches, drawings, cartoons and paintings over the years, yet when someone asks me how I come up with ideas for work I tell them I’m really not sure. A truly original idea for a piece of art is always a gift from somewhere else, and you just hope and pray it might happen again.
I have thought about this subject a lot lately, about where inspiration or stream of consciousness comes from.
Sometimes inspiration can be conjured up in other ways. If you surround yourself with material to spark your interest such as favourite artworks, books and music it can often help you get into the right frame of mind to generate an original idea.

On creating art and personal style

I guess that the style of work I do might be described as expressionistic, figurative or even illustrative.
I am not usually trying to approach reality in my work and prefer to use my memory when applying details to a picture. This probably has more to do with my background in cartooning and love of line art illustration than anything else, and is quite indicative of my style and approach to a picture.

On drawing and technique

I draw a lot. It really is the integral foundation of all of my work. Everything starts with the drawing and the happy little accidents or sidetracks which come from that initial train of thought. I often wish I could capture the immediacy and vitality of the original sketch when working in pastel or paint, as it so often get’s lost later in the labour of tone and colour. I also keep sketch books which I fill with ideas, doodles, marks and anecdotes. I usually create a lot of my initial ideas for pictures in willow charcoal or pencil and once happy with that, I’ll use a fixative to ensure there is no melding with the overlayed colours that follow. Occasionally I will purposely leave some of the underlying drawing to “peek through” a picture just to give the piece a sense of history or effect.

What are your working methods, how do gather your ideas eg. through a journal, drawings, collecting info etc.?

I don’t have a standard routine for producing art but I do keep artist notebooks and sketchbooks which are filled with ideas, preliminary sketches and observations. Some paintings have come about through perusing these at later dates or using certain motifs or ideas I noted earlier but in a different context than originally planned.
Usually my work is topical in that I really have to be close to the content in some way and can’t paint for paintings sake. This slows me down a little as I concentrate on one or two paintings at a time. The Red Dust Girl series was an exception of course, being four paintings in progress at any one time.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to be inspired for the whole creativity process to take place and for me to be happy with a concept and eventually the final painting. I like my work to be as original as possible so source material is really what I call stuff which inspires me. This can be anything from music, personal situations or through looking at other artists work. I have a large collection of art history books, music magazines and graphic art magazines. I have a broad appreciation of illustrators and artists from all over the world and love looking at the work of Brad Holland, Ashley Wood, Martin French and many unknown artists I find on the internet. Closer to home there is the art of Brett Whiteley, Gary Shead and Gordon Richards. Vincent, Modigliani, Goya and Jean Michael Basquiat will always be of great interest.

As far as method or process goes, I usually try to map out my initial rough drawing onto large (primed) pre stretched canvas in willow charcoal. I wipe the charcoal line back slightly and fix it with a spray fixative. Sometimes I use an oil pastel for early line art and wipe it back with turps. Another lesser-known transfer method I use is a women’s eyeliner pencil which blends well as it already contains an oil element within it.

Because I sometimes use collage pieces in my work I glue any pieces on with strong araldite and add painted washes or medium later. I collaged brushes, matches, pencil shavings and even a broken CD of Miles Davis onto the “Talking to the Muses about Art” canvas during the course of that painting.

From here on in it’s all basic oil painting.. starting with darker tonal areas of shadow and working up to the lighter shades. I tend to favour a warm palette so Alizarin Crimson and Cad Yellow feature heavily. Washes of Burnt Sienna are also common features of my paintings in recent times along with the use of a medium Windsor & Newton produce called liquin. There are lots of little decisions along the way until I’m happy with it and I try to avoid that overworked look as best I can. The paintings take days to weeks to complete, as I need layers of wash to dry in some parts of the paintings before going in over the top again.

What are you working on in the studio right now?

Currently I’m concentrating on a small series of paintings and drawings tentatively titled “Café Girls”.
The paintings are large oil on canvas works and each feature a girl sitting at a café table. There is also a small bird in each of the paintings which is symbolic of the girls personality.
You seem to enjoy working in different mediums using such things as oils, pastels and digital mediums. Do you just like variety or are there other reasons for the changes in medium?
I generally get a little stagnant or bored with my own work if I stay in the same (place) medium too long, so I like to keep moving. Also, some of my ideas simply call for a particular mediums application. My love of illustration and graphic art often draws me back to the line orientated mediums such as charcoal, pastel or the computer. Experiment I say..

The trick is being able to retain your own style throughout the medium changes and knowing the limitations. Like music, I have a broad appreciation of many different forms of art and thankfully don’t have that blinkered approach where everything needs to be categorised, or you must stick to what you do best. I just let art lead me in all sorts of interesting directions and get just as much enjoyment out of looking at Robert Crumb stuff as I do Goya or Rembrandt for instance.

Journal Comments

  • HeibloemPhotography
  • yasmine
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