What is your creative process?
Painting inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes I wake up with an idea for a piece floating in my mind. Sometimes it’s a culmination of different elements and thought processes coming together and becoming a concept. On the days when the epiphanies aren’t flowing, I like to get my inspiration by getting out of the house and going for a walk and like most of us these days, I have my phone with me at all times. Although the photos I take with it are unlikely to win any awards, it works exceptionally well to briefly capture the beauty and vision of what’s all around me.
Focusing Through Unfocusing
When basing a work off of a photograph I’ve taken, it's not about what’s in the image. I focus on the elements that make up the whole of it - colour, contrast and composition. Once I’ve picked an image that catches my eye, I take away all of it’s defining features by adding a blur filter to it. This step has been one of the most pivotal changes to my work. It’s so easy to get caught in minute details when working off a photograph - it can become a challenge of mimicry rather than a source of inspiration. By removing that barrier I am able to focus on the elements I find more expressive and impactful.
Adding the Colour Base
Once I have a rough composition reference, it’s time to put paint on the page. I start by applying large areas of colour. I try to stick to 3-5 different hues but it varies depending on my image and size that I’m working with. I love using vibrant colour. I often use paints at their full saturation and only use tints and tones to affect the value rather than to dull the intensity of a hue.
Mixing & Stitching
The first colour base doesn’t need to be perfect. It acts as a general guide to build the rest of the composition. Once it’s been painted, then comes the fun part. This is when I let my imagination run wild and my vision take the lead. I blend my colours together using straight lines that lead the eye from one to the next. This creates a personal look to my work and adds to the character of it. I let my eye dictate where I use this mixing and blending style, sometimes straying dramatically from the initial reference image that inspired the piece in the beginning. Like I said, this is the fun part.
Layering on Texture
With the colour mixed and the composition taking shape, it’s time to add some dramatic flair. I love using black and white to add bold and striking texture to my pieces. I often alternate between adding these rough elements and stitching colours together using a putty knife. As it scrapes against other layers of paint it leaves a crude and sporadic paint trail, creating areas that are packed with interesting elements. I use items like combs, plastic wrap, stamps and other tools to build up layers of organic lines and textures until the piece is complete. Sometimes this process takes multiple days and rounds of colour and texture to get it just right. I will sometimes skip this part in the process if I'm already happy with the way the piece has turned out and depending on the mood of the collection.
Edging & Sealing
This is the point when I decide if a piece is finished. I can stare at a piece of art for hours and not know if it’s done or not. When that happens, I will put it aside and look at it the next day and hopefully like it better than the day before, and even better the next day. Some of my favourite pieces were ones where I could add more but something tells me to wait. Once I’ve given myself the chance to appreciate my own work and fall in love with it, only then I will put on the final acrylic sealant and finish up any edges with a fresh touch up of paint.
Scaling my Work
I often work in a small scale with many of my pieces no larger than 12 inches tall. This serves a few different purposes:
- Functionality - I truly believe that artwork belongs in every room of the home and not every room has the space for a large scale piece of art on the wall. Small artworks, especially ones that can be placed on table tops, are such a simple way of bringing life and creativity into an area.
- Studio space - My studio is also my home, and living in the city that means large amounts of open floor and wall space are hard to come by. Where I could put one large art piece, I can put dozens of small, individual works.
- Miniature prototypes - Sometimes I find it hard to commit to a large piece given my studio space restrictions. By making many smaller pieces, I’m often motivated by the artwork itself and am excited to create larger, more prominent versions. I name these pairings minima / maxima with both pieces clearly stemming from the same inspiration but his textures and technique are individual to themselves.