Could you briefly describe your creative process?
My process tends to be fairly free and experimental. I’ll usually sit down with my sketch book or a few loose sheets and just see what happens.
My starting point for a piece will often be certain colour, or colour palette, then I start to make marks on the page; laying down some wet layers first, letting things dry off, going back again and adding more. I will then start to use the dry mediums; pen, pencil, pastel, over the top. I find this method really encourages my creativity and I will often have a few pieces going at one time so as one is drying I can work on another.
From these small works, I will be able to put together a composition for a larger piece. My work comes from feelings and emotions more than any particular subject or image. It’s about visually expressing my inner energy, so when I’m feeling inspired it’s time to reach for the paper.
Who or what have been your greatest influences in your life in regard to creativity?
I think my continuing strongest influence is, or are, the artist, photographers, designers and makers around me that I come across every day.
I am a big fan of Instagram and often spend time searching for new artists to follow. I love to read blogs about people’s art, their experiences, how they overcome problems and what their art means to them.
If ever I feel that I am lacking in motivation to work, or I’m having a period of low inspiration it can take a new piece of work just catching my eye that I connect with and it’s all I can do not to run straight for my art space.
Right from a young age I can remember the intense desire to try things I saw, to have a go myself and express the feelings it would give me when I saw a piece of art or a project I liked. That hasn’t changed to this day.
Although you express a love for the natural world, does inspiration for your work also come from the material, man-made world?
I suppose the answer to that is yes, my inspiration comes from how I experience the world around me and living in the outskirts of Liverpool city centre means I experience a whole lot of the man-made world on a daily basis.
What I meant when I wrote about my love for the natural world is that I feel my creativity is at a peak when I am surrounded by nature. I am in my element there and personally I find the more connected and energised I feel the stronger the desire to express those feelings with my art. That’s not to say there aren’t places around the city that I like to spend time and fuel my inspiration too.
At your website, you speak about a "growing fascination with tactility". Could you tell us a little bit more about that ?
I am, and probably always have been, a person that likes to ‘see with their hands’, and when I am drawn to something I want to touch not just look at it. I imagine this is probably why my artistic process has leaned so heavily toward abstract mixed media as it gives me the opportunity to indulge my desire to be hands on, as it were.
I often mix paint with my hands, use pieces of card to drag the colour around the page then combine with a shading of oil pastel perhaps. The act itself of getting my hands covered in vibrant colours and textures is a joy to me and one that I want to explore as an art in its own right, not just a side effect.
I am a very visual person and am actually a little dyslexic so it comes so naturally to me to express myself with my hands as opposed to words.
What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
In short….not too much nor too little. I find with abstract art there is a fine line between something looking finished and something looking a mess because you went too far with it.
I do a lot of experimentation on smaller sheets as it a) makes me feel freer with my mark making and b) so I can work on multiple compositions at once. Then when I’m happy I have found something I like, I can take it to a larger scale.
I am also a firm believer in going away and having a break from a piece if you think you might be finished, then coming back and looking at it again with fresh eyes. I think you can over-saturate yourself with a piece of work and stop being able to look at it constructively.
What are your greatest artistic challenges and how do you overcome them?
To be honest my biggest challenge at the moment is probably having to work full time and fit my art work around office hours. It has been the cause of stress and anxiety at times when I have been desperate to try and mould my passion into my career, but at the same time very aware of the need for a reliable income.
I am still not long on the journey of my artistic career but what I have learned so far is; be patient, don’t rush things and just take it day by day, reach out to people and explore your local community and most importantly just keep creating.
What do you love most about what you do? What do you dislike about it?
The most important thing about my art is that for me, it is an escape from all the normal anxieties and pressures of everyday life.
When I sit down to work I am no longer unsure of myself, I no longer second guess things and over think things, I just express what I’m feeling through the colours, textures and shapes of my work. I find abstract art gives me a way to express what I cannot often otherwise put words to, it is my purest and deepest form of therapy.
On the flip side of this, as I’m sure any creative person will agree, when for whatever reason you have a block or you don’t get the outcome you are hoping for it can affect you deeply and detrimentally for a time. But I guess you can’t have the up without the down and I am certainly not planning on sacrificing the highs of creation any time soon.
What advice would you give to an aspiring painter?
It's interesting to be the one writing an answer for this question, this is the type of thing I would often look for from other artist and creators to help me along my path.
I think the most important thing above all is to keep creating, and regularly. Get to know your own process, be familiar with it and it will hopefully then develop with you. Try and work as regularly as you can and if that means only 10 minutes one day then so be it, what you do in those ten minutes today could completely shape what you create tomorrow. Don’t get discouraged by feeling like it’s not good enough, or it’s not how you imagined, take these times to push you on to try again or try something different.
Do you have any quotes or a motto that you live your life by or think about often?
I do actually, it’s a simple one but I do try to live my life by it and that is ‘Be yourself…’. I think in creativity, and really life in general, it is so important to remember this, and not often easy to either.
I think it is easy to forget yourself at times, to feel small and overshadowed or to feel lacking. It is important to remember who you are and why you do what you do, don’t compromise yourself for any reason. I try to tell myself that most days anyway.
The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Delta of Venus by Anais Nin