Untitled (opening), oil on board, 51 x 41 cm, 2010
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I'm currently priming 20 fairly small rectangular boards in preparation for new paintings. I'm hugely particular about my priming, building up at least 5 very thin layers of white acrylic gesso, sanding to an incredibly smooth finish in between each coat. Due to recent work commitments this has taken almost 3 weeks, I’m desperate to start painting in a few days time!
Can you describe your working routine?
Once I’ve decided on my primary image (usually a photograph found in a book or online) and have prepared it (enlarging/distorting/fading on the photocopier, collaging or painting onto the printed image) I begin painting on my primed surface immediately. I never map out a picture with pencil or grid it up, preferring to draw with the thinned oils which can easily be wiped away with turps or more paint. My painting process consists of drawing/wiping/drawing/wiping, something which can continue for a matter of weeks. However, when I like whats happening on the board the process can become incredibly quick. A finished painting may only take me a matter of hours to complete but will often be the fiftieth composition to have taken place on that support.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
My studio space consists of 3 walls, one being completely open and is one of about 20 on a large converted floor of a warehouse in Bermondsey, set up and run by Bow Arts Trust. I've been there for exactly one year and was attracted to the space by the open plan set up which was similar to my college studio space at Central Saint Martins which I’d recently left. Initially I enjoyed seeing what everybody else was up to and the incentive to make lots of new paintings as others would be curious about your work, but I’m hoping to become more experimental in my practice and I think privacy would help during this period. I couldn't afford a space with its own windows so my natural light comes from the opposite studio which isn't ideal so i'm thinking about moving to a more secure space with windows and radiators in the next few months - last winter was unbearable!
Untitled (exotic), oil on board, 36 x 36 cm, 2010
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
Inspiration for new paintings tends to evolve from a gallery visit or a new art book - one that compiles lots of contemporary artists. Its the quality of a brush-stroke and the way the paint's been moved around a surface which gets me and sets off a trail of ideas about how I could incorporate such a mark or consistency of paint into my own work. For the past year, the primary subject of my work has been 'the formal garden' which originated from my love of French Rococo paintings. I use the internet, magazines and books from the CSM library (I make fantastic use of my alumni card!) to source both painted and photographic imagery from which to begin a painting, physically and mentally collaging the imagery until I’ve something to get the brush moving and from there, the act of painting takes over.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
Subject matter. I'm keen to move on from formal gardens and to rein my abstraction in a little but I’m finding this hugely difficult - possibly due to the process of painting being the actual subject of my work. However, if this is the case then any primary image should work as a starting point for a painting to guide the shapes and plains etc. but I want to feel the compulsion to make visual a certain subject, something I haven't felt quite so powerfully since I was obsessed with the female nude before embarking on my foundation at Camberwell College of Arts.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I haven't been very experimental with materials since I began painting in thinned oils on acrylic gessoed boards 3 years ago. I'm happy working within these parameters but am keen to experiment with my source imagery, perhaps working from roughly mocked-up 3D models rather than 2D pictures.
What does the future hold for this work?
At the moment, to just keep on painting! I'm hoping the figurative will re-emerge within my work over the coming months and that a story will begin to evolve, made visible by both the subject of my works and the momentum of my painting. I'm also curious to see whether I return to the oval after working within the confines of 4 straight sides...
Untitled (Lawn), oil on board, 58 x 45 cm, 2010