Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
I make abstract paintings using acrylic paint. My work visually explores colour, shape, and texture. There's no intellectual meaning behind the work I make, I make a painting as a means to relax, get into a state of flow, escape my own head, to play, to have fun - what it does for me depends on the mood I'm in really. If I'm feeling good, it's playful - if I'm feeling bad, it's a distraction. The way I make is automatic - I don't plan anything before hand, I just try to make, let go, and see what happens - but by doing this I've found I've created my own visual language and there are motifs and shapes my brain likes to repeat and gravitate towards - at the moment they're almost cloudlike shapes, that many people have described as mellow and peaceful. To start, I tend to paint a base colour - again, whatever I feel like, and then I tend to layer shapes on top of each other. I like when there's a build up of opaque shapes, and transparent shapes on top so you can see the other colours underneath. The colours I use tend to depend on my taste at the time.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
You have talked before about the joy of abstract painting, how its lack of representational subject matter provides a freedom to create visually appealing work, tell us more about this?
I grew up in a schooling system that really praised realism over anything else. Which I'm grateful for, because I think in order to make decent abstract work, it helps to actually know how to draw and paint, and have some sort of traditional/formal training. I actually loved portraiture growing up - you wouldn't think this looking at my work now, but realism is my background, and the foundation of me making art. It got to a point where for me, making work with some sort of reference became stressful - as a perfectionist - because it was never good enough, or exact enough. In University, after going down the conceptual route briefly - I just rejected everything I'd been taught previously, after finding Fiona Rae's paintings - and it was complete freedom. Because, with abstract work, there's no reference, there's no rules. I think I find freedom in my work so important, because there have been many times in my life I haven't felt free. So it's pretty liberating to be able partake in something where you can do whatever you want, and it's yours, and there's no right or wrong. I think you can still see my perfectionist traits in my work though, it's very neat and refined! So I can't let go fully haha, but that's fine, that's who I am.
I use flow improver quite bit with my paint - it waters down the paint without losing the pigment - so you get a rich colour but the paint is nice and runny and creates an almost watercolour effect. I use this for my more transparent layers, and as it says on the tin, it allows the paint to flow which is handy for me when it comes to painting quite rounded, organic lines. Other than that, music I think! Music is pretty important to me and I hate when I forget my headphones. Ideally I like to have tunes playing through my speakers but I want to be mindful of the other people I share a space with! There's nothing more perfect to me than getting lost in both music and making a painting at the same time!
Unfortunately, I've fell out of the habit of regularly reading which is really annoying because I love it, but it's difficult to find the time. It's something I'm trying to work on! However, my good friend Jess also known as Jazz Stan, is a mural artist and is one of the directors of the studio I have a space in - Bold Place in Liverpool. When I was still in university, I shadowed her as work experience for one of my modules, and helped her with some mural projects. As we were chatting and getting to know each other, she mentioned a book called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - she bought me a copy for my birthday! It meant a lot. The book basically encourages the reader to let go of fear and pursue creativity. Being a recent graduate unsure of where I was going in life - it was the lift I needed. If anyone's feeling a bit lost and doesn't know where to go next, I recommend reading this book - it really put things into perspective for me and was a clarification of how important my creativity, and making it a big part of my life, is to me.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I'm currently showing some work in two major galleries here in Liverpool, the Bluecoat Gallery, and the Walker Art Gallery - so I'm currently taking a break to recoup! Hopefully, there will be more opportunities to show work in the near future. There are talks of a solo show at some point. And I would like to regularly do some print runs so people who like my work can have it on their walls, and I have the funds to keep making! Future projects I'm trying to manifest include working with musicians for EP/Album artwork, more commissions, and I'd like to learn how to make my work move! But ultimately, I try to take things as they come, and not think too far ahead. Whatever happens, happens!