Like reading artists talking in their own words? Here’s some regularly updated blogs featuring the thoughts of contemporary painters. They deserve your attention!
Artists talk in their studio
a one-size-fits-all interview with a straightforward approach and a simple aim.
A behind the scenes approach to contemporary painting
I’ve recently had my new works photographed and have uploaded them to my website as an example of what i’ve been up to over the last few months. It was great to work with a photographer with all the equipment and a proper studio and the results are far superior to anything I’ve ever been able to do myself. For your chance to see them in the flesh make sure you come along to the Florence Trust Open Studio 21 – 23rd January.
More images available on www.andywicks.co.uk
Its been almost a month since I moved into the Florence Trust studios and time has flown by. With August traditionally being holiday season its been a quieter start to what i expected with some artists away or finishing off commitments, without any holidays planned and with deadlines looming I’ve tried to throw myself straight into studio life, which ontop of getting used to not working a full time job has been tougher than I thought. The day to day practice of painting everyday has been fantastic and I’ve been constantly shocked about just how much can be achieved having day after day working on something. The thing I have found more of a challenge is scheduling my days without having a set time to get up for work, mornings slip by quickly with my typical studio hours being midday to 9/10pm – a much more civilized existence in my mind.
My studio space is huge compared to what i’ve been used to on Vyner Street, already I can feel the benefits of having perspective on my paintings in progress and the possibility of viewing a series of works together from the luxury of my new Ikea chair (the most comfort you can get for £10). In my first couple of days I painted and built some new walls as well as installing some shelves and making a rather splendid chipboard painting storage rack with reclaimed wood (see below).
The last week has seen a much busier studio with people finding their rhythm. The other artists work across a spectrum of art practices and we’ve already started to form our own work habits/ working hours/ tea + lunch breaks outside to warm up (churches even in summer are not warm!) as well as Gin & Tonic club (no names mentioned) . A couple of the others have shows coming up and its really good to be in an environment where everyone has different exciting things going on and are all motivated to push on with their practice. You can see examples of everyones work HERE.
With my groupshow Superunknown opening on 6th October I’m current working on a new painting which needs to be finished by the end of next week for print deadlines. Once that’s done it’ll be a case of selecting and collecting works from the other artists in time for installation. While the PR machine will be starting so we can hopefully get some attention during a busy month with Frieze Art Fair and numerous gallery shows to co-inside.
In May 2009 Dutch artist and photographer Dredd visited my studio block to meet one of my studio mates, Dredd has been travelling across Europe for the past 2 years photographing artists in their studio and documenting his journey and the people he meets on his website www.artistintheworld.com. The only thing is we don’t actually recognise any of the artists as they all appear with their back to the camera framed by their studios of various sizes and uses, its a facinating site to spend some time on if not simply for the voyeur in you to sneak into the otherwise private world of the artist studio or if your like me, to stir jeolousy of those blessed with expansive studios. Dredd arrived at my door via a friend of my studio mate, based in Berlin, it seems that he travels Germany, Holland and occasional England following leads given at each location. Having shot many well known contemporary artists, including most recently Luc Tuymans it was a fantastic opportunity to take part in his project. This was taken soon after I moved in to the Vyner Street space which explains the rather empty and paint free walls, the large grey canvas is what became Fred, 2009.
I’ve neglected the blog a bit recently, with two group show openings last week and new work to complete for a solo show being installed on Sunday it been a busy month.
The show at Southall went really well, at the opening the huge space neither felt over hung by works from the 40+ artists or too sparse, even my 3 large paintings (up to 5 x 6ft ) which constantly get in the way in the studio seemed to shrink once hung from the mezzanine floor overlooking the rest of the space. I’m kind of glad a space of this scale isn’t the norm as otherwise I’d probably be creating 15 x 10 ft pieces just to make an statement.
I’ve yet to see the Police and Thieves show in New Cross but will be invigilating at the space on Sunday 21st if anyone wants to come along to look round and have a chat.
Over the last month I’ve been working on 3 pieces for the Medcalf show as all my other work is tied up in Southall/New Cross. The thought of producing new paintings in a short space of time was daunting with a number of walls to fill. As soon as the dates for the exhibition was confirmed I rushed to the studio and stretched up the only piece off canvas I had spare, without knowing the size to get a stretcher made in time I stapled it straight onto the wall, priming with 2 coats of acrylic primer followed by a black/brown wash all in a matter of hours. On the 2nd day I managed to finish the ground with a thicker dark wash consisting of paynes grey, titanium white & a bit of raw umber, these were applied from the tube by palette knife to different areas of the canvas and thinning down with zest-it to get create a wash.
The thing I like about working this way it that it leaves areas of thick paint and change in consistency to the thinned washes, where the zest-it flows past the thicker oil it erodes the paint leaving organic shapes.
I took a photo a while back of a building near City Road, Old Street which has always intrigued me, I think it’s some sort of power substation which has a really iconic but decaying look to it. With a strong form it jumped out as the right image to use for these works, especially as they’ll be on show less than a mile away. I had 2 smaller canvases – 100 x 100 cm and 80 x 80 cm which had been worked on numerous times without going anywhere so I lay some washes on these, one brown and the other more of a creamy white tone. The larger of the two had some angled stripes worked into the white acrylic primer with a dull linen colour acrylic paint and worked well as an undercurrent to the chaos of the overlaid paint. The 80 x 80 cm had elements of pink coming through from my day over Christmas of laying down baby pink under painting which appears through the wash giving the canvas more of a weathered look. For the first time I’ve returned to the same image for each of the 3 pieces with a front-on view and one from each side which while the colour and shape connects them together each reveals a bit more of the building while obscuring something else.
To finish off the show I will be hanging 6 of the 10 x 14″ pink canvases which I’ve been working on since Christmas, each has now moved away from the pink but stayed with loud, bright colours this time staying purely abstract with intersecting diagonals obscuring the flow of the paint beneath. Each retains some of pink ground but has complimented it with their own strong individual compositions and colours. It’s going to interesting to see the contrast between the larger architectural works and these small brighter abstract paintings when hung together.
After a few minor tweaks tomorrow they’ll be done and all the paintings will be wrapped and readied for a short van trip from Bethnal Green to Clerkenwell. Looking at the new paintings particular the largest canvas all things considered I’m very happy with them and who knows, if there wasn’t such a tight deadline they may have continued evolving or even overworked. They work as individual paintings, while together offering up subtle differences, a ghostly silhouette of a structure floating among dreary colourscapes intersected by dark brown diagonals as if the landscape has been obscured by prison bars or a half open blind. Is the viewer locked out of the painting or is the painting is locked out of our world?
You can make your own mind up from Monday 16th March running until Friday 30th April at Medcalf, Exmouth Market.
Update on the small paintings I’ve been working on since the new year (mentioned HERE). Each has been approached differently with the only constraint being a pink base coat. I brought myself a selection of 20 Michael Harding oil tubes over Christmas (££), the first time I’ve tried out quality paints and so far so good, the colours are much more vivid than I’m used to due to a higher pigment/oil ratio compared with cheaper student quality paints. Also with a wider range of colours my palette has expanded considerably, something I’m willing to do but conscious of keeping more regular darker tones in the mix. More to follow..
New Year – New paintings underway. With ULTRAMEGAOK coming down at the end of December and Odette completed for Tag @ Brown which opens this Thursday, all the pieces I have been working on have now been completed, while the studio certainly isn’t empty I always like to have something on the go. Over Christmas I’ve stretched up 10 canvas 25.4 x 35.5 cm to get going on for the new year, I’ve always found it hard to work on a primed canvas, with my thinned oil dripped background I usually apply a layer to tint the canvas and give some flow and texture to the future painting. I much prefer to speedily cover the primed canvas rather than start painting directly on to it which can often come across as muddy – particularly with the brown tones I use.
With some of the large architectural pieces from last year I used a thick dark black/brown mix on the sides as a border with a thinned colour in the same tone on the face, the dark tone gave the paintings a depth of ground with any additional application of paint lightening the composition. These 10 pieces currently in progress are stretched with a primed polyester which is very smooth and bright white, for a while I’ve been thinking about using brighter coloured grounds which would work particularly well with the bright white primer. The colour I’ve mixed up is a baby pink, a total opposite to my usual, with each canvas I tried a different type of application from thinned dripped ground, splatted, pooled and thicker applications. Since the photo was taken I’ve been working the pink into the background with a dark more usual palette over the top, letting the warmth work more subtly.
This sort of bright palette reminds me of Thomas Scheibitz’s excellent exhibition at Camden Art Centre in 2008, he uses lots bright oranges and pinks amongst darker colours in his large scale paintings and works on paper.
Welcome to my blog. Not sure how this will pan out but here goes. I’m an artist based in East London (there are a few of us!), I predominantly work in oil paint from my studio on Vyner Street. I’ve had my website http://www.andywicks.co.uk for around 8 years, dating back to when I was at school (an early starter) but never got into blogging. Its been suggested that its a good way to compliment what I do with my website and fill in the gaps with random thoughts, work in progress and general newsworthyness.