Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your practice?
I moved to Oxford last spring and was lucky to get a studio space at MRS within a few months. Up until very recently I would have called myself a figurative painter. I started by creating traditional oil portraits that became looser and more painterly over time. The image gradually became less important to the point that it began to get in the way of the painting. I struggled with the idea of changing my style so dramatically, having invested so much time and energy into what I had previously done. Although this change has been in development over a number of years, the final decision to work in a purely abstract way came during a meditation session and it was simple and freeing. The doors are now wide open.
What are you currently working on?
I have been producing abstract paintings for only a couple of months, so it definitely feels like starting again, which is very exciting. I want to produce a body of work that I am happy with before pursuing solo exhibitions but there are plenty of competitions, group shows and art fairs to apply for. I have had interest already in the new work which is very encouraging. As an artist I have always aimed to make work that is easy to understand which communicates on an instinctive emotional and visual level, without compromising my own sensibilities.
How do you spend your time in the studio?
As I live very close to MRS I tend to be at the studio in the evenings and weekends at least 3-4 times a week. I appreciate working alone, which also means I can listen to music at a decent volume. When I produced my early oil portraits I would work on the same painting, day after day, until it was completed. This working method is not open to spontaneity and chance and I soon became bored by the predictability of the results. Over time I have adapted to working for intense short periods, usually for just a few hours. I work with one colour at a time and on several canvases at once. Each layer may take seconds to apply and I work instinctively, adding and removing layers. Too much thought can kill a painting. It is also useful to have some distance from your work so you can make objective decisions and to build up energy for it.
What are your other (work) commitments if any?
I work full time but luckily the day job leaves me with enough energy and time for the real work. I also regularly attend and run life drawing sessions at Fusion at East Oxford Community Centre. I run all the Saturday sessions and some of the Thursday evenings. Life drawing has always been the backbone of my practice even if it is not directly obvious in my current work. I find life drawing a great exercise in concentration, eye to hand co-ordination and split second decision making.
How does having a studio at Magdalen road support your work?
My previous studios were free but paying for a work space is not a disadvantage. I find it a great motivation and reality check. It is also the first time since art school that I have been in a communal studio situation. I may not have met everyone yet but knowing the quality of work being produced here is also inspiring.
What are you hoping to achieve over the next year?
In a way 2017 feels like year zero as I have essentially re-invented myself as an artist. I feel more confident with my current work, even at this early embryonic stage, because of the years of thought and experience behind it. I have recently been accepted to show at The Other Art Fair, Bristol in September as well as London Truman Brewery in October.