Obstacle No. 4, oil on canvas, 40 x 35cm, 2011
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I’ve just made a load of new work and am now preparing some more canvases, fiddling around with a few larger paintings which are in progress and thinking about making some paper sketches. The new work I’ve just made has really challenged me, I’ve been exploring subtler colours and working more on linen.
Can you describe your working routine?
I get to the studio early and start painting once I’ve settled in. I work pretty quickly so unless I get stuck I usually work on at least 5 paintings a day. A lot of my studio time is used stretching and priming canvas, which I take a lot of care over…though I do sometimes get quite bored of doing it!
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I’ve recently moved to a larger studio so I’m very aware of the effect it’s had – I can stand a greater distance from larger works which has given me a bit more confidence to work on the whole surface at a time, rather than painting just on bits which usually are their downfall. The particulars of my space don’t really matter – I keep all my materials in cardboard boxes so they are transportable to any space with a white wall and good natural light. My studio building is close to the Olympic Park which has been constantly changing for the last 2 years I’ve been here, I’m sure this must have influenced my work in some way.
Dune, oil on canvas, 40 x 45cm, 2011
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
I’ve always got paintings on the go, but usually the bulk of my work is done in bursts - depending on when I have fresh surfaces to work on. Whilst preparing canvases I’m usually churning over things in my head, exhibitions I’ve seen, things I’ve read, places I’ve been to. I might make some works on paper at this time just to think about colour and get moving on something.
When the canvases are ready I start applying layers of colour and seeing what sort of depths appear between the layers before bringing in some kind of ‘problem’ or ‘obstacle’ which changes the space. I love to introduce something out of curiosity and be surprised at what it does. Its important to me to not feel restricted by fear of embarrassment at making some thing which looks rubbish, which is why I work on so many things at once. Its ok for them to fail.
Some work well in this way and are finished quickly and others take longer to resolve and usually get layered over many times. Titling is the final thing, which I do whilst looking at photos of the paintings on a computer as this feels a more natural place to apply word to image. They often come from a feeling I have about the work, or reference something which is interesting me at the time. They are also usually words which have good rhythm and stability.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
Larger paintings…I often get impatient waiting for them to dry and make a mess working into wet. I also worry that my work appears a bit erratic as the outcomes can look very different. But this is partly what keeps me excited about it.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I experiment with new materials if there is something I would like to achieve and slowly work it into my studio practice. Recently I’ve been experimenting with dry pigments, making my own oil and watercolours but its taken me 2 years of thinking about it!
Made, oil on canvas, 40 x 35cm, 2011
What does the future hold for this work?
I want to continually question and play with my practice. There are endless possibilities because I’m always looking around and feeding new things into the work. I enjoy engaging with the contemporary debates and history of painting because it has always been so central to my experience and love of art, though I’m also interested in how my practice can engage with other media which inspire me such as sculpture and video.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Next week I’m going to be taking all my recent work to Limoncello Gallery to make a selection for my exhibition ‘Certain Obstacles’ which is open 24 November 2011 – 14 Jan 2012. I really can’t wait to see how it works in the space though I’m a little nervous too.