Robert is a Suffolk-based fine art painter best known for his quirky still life work designed to bring a smile or an emotional tug to those who stop by to appreciate his work.
Describe yourself in 5 sentences... " 1. A family man.
2. A lifelong learner.
5. With Artistic potential! "
What inspires you to make art? "I can’t help it and have been a producer all of my life be it in creating music, writing or through my art - but I always return to my art and have more time to devote to its creation now. The emotional magic that can be created on a 2-d surface started as a child running a brush full of water over one of those instant water colouring books at my Gran’s house, and still spurs me on today as I ‘find a form’ through oil paint today. Of course the greats of the past are a keen motivator and master copies have been a mainstay for many an artist’s training but my motivations are rapidly moving towards my own contemporary style, as I allow myself the creative freedom that comes with having more time playing in the studio and as I loosen up more. "
Do you think art always has to have a deeper meaning? "No. ‘Art’ can mean many things to different people: A sideways glance at a decorative work as you exit an hotel; a work that you thought wouldn’t, but did, stop you in its tracks; a personal piece you cannot let go, conclude you must and then move on. The meaning can be fleeting, recurring or life-changing but not always deep. "
What are some of the challenges you face as an artist? How do you combat these? "Visibility. For me it’s almost enough to produce the art but I move through cyclical waves of having to and wanting to share it and testing if others can find meaning, humour or joy – even a fleeting aesthetic feel good is all that I’d hope - in it. I am sure there is a wider audience who would appreciate it, just that I haven’t yet found it as consistently as I would like to as yet. No point in it lying about the studio when it could be ‘out there‘ giving joy to others. So with encouragement from family, friends and the Visual Artists Association (who have a wonderful uplifting book on the subject!) I’m now getting out there a bit more.
Inertia. In a lean period creating pieces that might never be appreciated and hence ‘why bother’. A sketchbook helps here and often I draw the first thing that comes into my head, be it pattern, doodle, abstract or object, it doesn’t matter it’s a start and often surprise myself with what comes out. Then it exists. Then it grows on me. Then it is part of me and I’m glad I did it. If that can happen so can a next painting.
Quality. Will I ever be that good? A never ending journey but true craftsmanship comes through knowledge, practice and repetition so I will keep plugging away and keep returning to technique and works of other artists to aid my journey." How does your artwork relate to current issues in the world? "Figurative expression is a constant in this world engineered through the complex biology of humankind. Our reactions to it are instinctive and natural. My still life work tends to be personification from a saying, observation or pun and my figurative work informed through the action or expression of the model. Themes range from the human condition (Freedom, Silence of the Blues) to the odd political one (State of the Union) and an as-yet-to-be-painted climate series in the musing stage. Currently working on a series inspired by Draw Brighton. With the news of the day oft taxing I hope that my brightly lit paintings can lift a mood or two."
What is your favourite medium to work with? "Oils. They are an incredibly expressive medium that can give me range from flat, colour geometric harmonies to fully-modelled 3-d forms, transparent and transient effects, perfect for flesh and clothing."
Is there a particular artwork you've created which you are especially proud of? "Earlier this year I completed a portrait of Mick Bateman a fellow artist and family friend who sadly passed unexpectedly last year. I’m not a trained portrait painter and I am never sure if I can pull them off but I was reasonably proud of the end result (below/opposite) and with full blessings from the family the portrait was hung in London this summer in the reception of one of CRISIS’ buildings, an organisation Mick worked with for many years providing purpose and hope through art."
How do you balance your creative work life with your personal life? "In times of creative flow I cannot! and work voraciously to produce until I am aesthetically proud of my creations. Then rest. Rinse, repeat. Thus my personal life IS my creative work life and vice versa. I’m slowly learning however that quantity is not always quality! Family keeps me grounded on the real priorities and timetable though!" What would you say to your younger self if you could? "It’ll all work out ok regardless of what is thrown at you - run at life - do it now - the fall off of light on form is not linear 😊 - one day you will feel ok about sharing your art and will be proud to call yourself an artist - and a million other things."
What has been the highlight of your career so far? "I’m near on a hundred paintings sold aka ‘out there’, that will be a nice milestone, so knowing there’s a small bit of my aesthetic joy sitting around the world or being appreciated on the internet is heart-warming, I’ve a lot more creating to share and really still on the emerging part of my artistic journey."
What does your dream studio look like? "Probably a garden space I could escape to for those maximum-concentration times but with only space enough for the four or five of the paintings I am currently working on as all the others are off to a gallery never to return! A customisable canvas stretching machine that eats stretchers and canvas roll and pops out the perfectly sized substrate. Oil paint nozzles that never run out and expunge the colour you’ve just selected from the relevant W&N or Old Holland colour chart. A wee coffee/tea pot setup with automatic scone machine so that when Rosemary from Rosemary’s brushes hand delivers the latest batch of required brushes hospitality is not an issue. A huge North-facing window for maximum studio light. " What brings you joy? "Joy can come from many places. Watching my children enjoy life and be successful. Taking some time out in the countryside, climbing a hill/mountain and taking in the amazing views or spending time with the special people in my life."
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