'pewter18', 2012, gesso, tracing paper,
acrylic and crayon on board (20.5 x 13.3cm)
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I am working on a big piece which is made up of lots of small pieces . I am also trying out some new pieces which are moving towards sculpture.
Can you describe your working routine?
I don't have a particular routine. My wife is working as an art teacher at the moment and we have two young boys whom I mind a lot during the day, so usually whenever I am not doing that I can get into the studio to do some work (doesn't really feel like work though).
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I am using a small bedroom in our house, its cosy and the light is good. My desk is facing the window, I like being able to look up every now and then and see people walking down the road. There is a golf course opposite the house so it feels more rural than it actually is. Its nice being able to go into "the studio" whenever an idea occurs to me. I have a shed at the end of the garden with a clear roof, the light is fantastic but its too cold to use in the winter.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.
For the past two years I have been working almost exclusively on panels which are 205 x 133mm. The starting point can be anything, a colour, a found piece of paper, another painting etc.. I work on a lot of pieces at the same time. I like being able to see as many of them as I can while I am working. They feed into and off each other, some sit for ages before coming to fruition others can come together quite quickly, the trick is knowing when to step back. I like to layer things up. I probably approach each piece more like a page in a notebook, that's why having lots is important, it means I don't get too precious and am not overly concerned about messing something up. I try to make the most of every mark or layer, look at it from a few different angles and think about how, if at all I could make something of it.This can mean sitting for ages just looking at the work. I want each piece to contain an element of the unexpected and for that to happen means not having too many plans beforehand. Working on a small scale and on lots of pieces at the same time means you can be a lot more spontaneous which I think is crucial if the work is to have life. Within the parameters of the scale its a jumbled up unpredictable way of working and I try to let things take their own course although inevitably I probably repeat myself more than I am aware of.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
The hardest thing for me is talking about and explaining what I do. I think a lot about painting but I don't know how much it helps. As regards the why? I haven't really been able to come up with an answer, all I know is that I feel frustrated when I cannot paint. In relation to actually making the work I know some see it in terms of problem solving, but for me its more about cultivating the right frame of mind, because when I am enjoying it things go well.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I do experiment with materials although not as much as I used to because I know by now which ones give me what I want. Some of what I do is collage and I will use anything if its the right texture/ colour etc. in the past I have used bubble wrap, tin foil, perspex, a laminating machine, shoe polish etc.(not that there is anything particularly original about this, Kurt Schwitters was doing something similar a hundred years ago). As regards painting materials I prefer waterbased for their speed of drying and because they're easier to get out of the carpet
'pewter17', 2012, acrylic, collage and
crayon on paper on board (20.5 x 13.3cm)
What does the future hold for this work?
MOMA? only joking I hope to be able to submit the large piece for the RHAs annual summer exhibition in Dublin.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
It's great to see so much engaging quality abstract painting around at the moment.
'pewter1', 2012, acrylic and watercolour
on paper on panel (20.5 x 93cm)