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Paul West - Artist Interview

Category: Artist Interviews

We are delighted that member artist Paul West agreed to be the next artist to be interviewed in our series of 'Artist Interviews'.

Paul is a London based artist and he draws inspiration from rugged landscapes influenced by his Dorset roots and frequent travels around Northumberland. Low horizons, huge skies and the secrets of Woodlands and solitary trees are key features in his work. Also a designer, Paul creates stark, emotive works, creating spaces with brooding volume, scarred with his signature ‘frenetic’ mark making.

David Field: When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

Paul West: Although I studied to be a graphic designer, my course at the LCP had a heavy emphasis on life drawing and printmaking skills, and from that time I made sure I kept books for sketching. Around 2010 I was beginning to feel restless with what I was doing in my life, so I reintroduced myself to a more ‘primal’ type of mark making through charcoal and painting.

Paul West: Street drawing in 1986, aged 21

DF: If you could describe your work with one sentence, what would it be?

PW: Striving to capture the emotion and energy in landscapes.

DF: Can you tell me how your art style has changed, if at all, over the years?

PW: Over the past 6 years I’ve been alternating between charcoal drawing, and painting. In my charcoal work I have become more detailed as a result of my graphic profession I guess. My painting comes from the opposite style. In the loseness of the way I paint (I favour a more impasto application) I try and break what I’m painting down to a more elemental level. I do love and admire highly detailed landscape painting however it’s not a process that comes out of me when I paint. I veer toward a sort of expressionism over realism. Perhaps I should eventually marry the charcoal vs painted techniques up a little more – but I do enjoy the dualism in the different styles!

DF: What project are you working on now?

PW: I am exhibiting at the New Artist Fair (Sept 9-11) and The Other Art Fair (Oct 6-9) so I am going to Northumberland very soon to paint landscapes for two weeks.

DF: Choose one piece of your art and give me a critique?

PW: “Towards Wolvesnewton” 2016. I was on a painting week in Wales - the view looked across the valley to the Brecon Beacons far in the distance. The landscape is undulating with a myriad of patchwork fields, and I spent days in frustration trying to capture what I thought to be the essence of the landscape in curves - nothing worked till one day I was scanning the horizon and realised I should have been working with straight planes. After that realisation, I painted many different studies in a very short period of time. I chose a flat, Ravillious-inspired colour palette (in the green at least). The mark making is simple, certainly not laboured, it reflected the feeling I had built up over the week. I worked with masks creating an almost stencil feel to the hedgerows which added to the time worn features of that incredible landscape.

“Towards Wolvesnewton” 2016 | Painting on board

DF: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

PW: Although I love the Dorset and Welsh landscape, Northumberland is the place that inspires me most - I find the huge spaces, incredible skies and cloud formations (as the North Sea winds clash with the Cheviots along the Anglo-Scottish border) and the rugged, hewn landscape overwhelmingly inspirational.

DF: What was the last show you participated in?

PW: HIVE 15 - (Harrogate) in November last year. It was a great experience and I enjoyed exhibiting in Yorkshire and meeting the exhibiting artists. It was also my opportunity to show for the first time my series of “Silent Voices” etchings I had been working on for a great deal of 2015.

DF: Who’s your favourite living artist and why?

PW: There are many. At this moment probably Hockney. I really enjoyed his sense of wonder in the “A Bigger Picture” exhibition in 2012. I find the ‘studied naivety’ in his mark making truly inspiring – typically in works like ‘Winter Timber’ which was so great to see life size.

David Hockney | Winter Timber - Oil on 15 Canvases

DF: Do you collect other people’s art, if so, who??

PW: I have a few works from artists I admire.

DF: If you had to display 3 works of art in your home forever more, what would they be, including your own?

PW: I have so many I could choose, however I will go with the following 3!

“Albuquerque No.4” – Richard Diebenkorn. – Any Diebenkorn would be fitting on my wall, this is one in particular I raved over at his exhibition at the RA in 2015

Richard Diebenkorn | Albuquerque No.4

“Flight to Italy – Swiss Landscape” – David Hockney. I used to teach design to a college in Monterrey, Mexico as a visiting lecturer. One of my favourite places to go were the la Huasteca mountains. This painting reminds me of those mountains and the way Hockney has painted the layers of strata blows my mind.

David Hockney | Flight into Italy - Oil on canvas - 1962

“Dining Recess” Patrick Caulfield – Wonderful atmospheric painting. The mood, ambience, the colour palette and I also love Tulip Chairs.

Patrick Caulfield | Dining Recess

DF: Do you make a living from your art?

PW: By combining the forces of progress, inspiration and an interested marketplace I aim to make a living from it full time!

DF: What’s the first artwork you ever sold?

PW: The first work that I’d consider to be an ‘artwork’ (inasmuchas it was a wrench to sell) was “Field, Northumberland”. It was the my first en plain air work that allowed me a glimpse into a world I wanted to explore, and one painting I had an emotional attachment with.

DF: What’s the last artwork you ever sold?

PW: “Northumberland Trail”, in July. I was happy with the painting, and pleased to be selling it to the kind buyer it went to.

Northumberland Trail - 2016

DF: What annoys you most about the art world?

PW: The corporatisation of art as a status symbol of wealth and power.

DF: What is the best thing about being an artist?

PW: Making the first mark on a new canvas. Questioning. Pushing through the moments of doubt till the work starts to become something that made the journey worth it.

Working in the studio!

DF: Lastly, anything else you would like to say?

PW: Thank you very much David. It is a pleasure to share my work with the members of Global Art Traders.

Paul West was Interviewed in August 2016

Paul's Website: www.p-west.co.uk

Email Paul: paul@form.uk.com

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