Why paint shopfronts?
That’s a good question! I’ve always liked painting what I see everyday but I think the shop obsession started from when I used to be a window dresser, I'd never really noticed shopfronts before. That job led to me constantly look at shop fronts and architecture. I wanted to capture local icons simply because of their distinctive typefaces and how much they stood out to me aesthetically. But now, almost every time I take a photo or make a painting of a building within weeks it’s either being painted over or has closed down, even if it stood vacant for years like Zodiac Records in Wandsworth. Now, I like the idea that I’m immortilising these places in paint but at the same time I’m sad that the high street is changing so rapidly and not just in London. Will those stories continue when there’s just nail salons, vape shops and supermarket chains? But then again these old shops used to be different shops once before so I guess change is inevitable.
What is your background?
I grew up in a suburban area of Norwich, England and escaped to study Fine Art at the University of Hertfordshire where I completed a degree in 2002. Since graduating, my paintings have been exhibited at places such as Hampton Court Palace, The Mall Galleries, the Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and The Royal Academy, London.
How long have you been creating art?
Art has been a constant in my life. I always remember happily spending time sitting drawing things in front of me or creating things in my room with whatever materials I could find. Since 2011 I slowly started to take things more seriously, fitting painting in between full time jobs, then part time jobs and now I’m happy to say I’ve gone full time with my art. I’m excited to see how much I can achieve now I can devote everyday to painting.
Do you take commissioned work?
Yes occasionally, but now I’m busy preparing a body of work for a solo show so at the moment I don’t have the time. But if you are interested reach out and maybe it can be something we can work towards in the future.
What other projects have you done?
In 2014 I created a painting on a bench in the shape of a book as part of a charity-run art trail for The National Literacy Trust. The painting was of Paddington Bear and sold at auction for £8,800. The bookbench now sits on platform 1 in Paddington Station, London.
Since then I’ve painted thirteen sculptures for art trails and schools across the UK, helping to raise money for charities.
What is your painting process?
I use acrylic paint because I’m quite an impatient painter and I like to add layers quickly. Plus I like that they are a man-made material to give the artwork a physical connection to the places I’m painting. I used to use fabric and materials in my work and I would like to explore more man-made materials in my work to add texture to the surfaces and perhaps create more decay by eroding the paint surface.
I like to have a really smooth surface to paint on so spend some time applying layers of gesso and sanding. I also add some small imperfections to the surface to give the painting another dimension.
I then spend several days or weeks referencing from a photograph. I used to exaggerate the colours on Photoshop first to remove the shops from their reality but now I think they are beautiful as they are and don’t need to be changed. I don’t use any drawing techniques like squaring up the photo/canvas as I prefer to spend more time painting, instead I create a rough sketch on the canvas using pencil or pastel and tend to draw instead using paint. I’ll do this after I’ve applied a coloured ground. Usually I’ll play around with colours to find the right mood for the painting but they are usually a colour opposite on the colour wheel to the most dominant colours in the photo which gives the painting tension, or I’ll use a colour close to the dominant colour to give a completely different feel. Applying a base colour also helps me to paint more efficiently and helps to ‘tie’ the painting together, giving my work a uniform style.
Where can we buy your work?
I also from time to time exhibit and sell originals through ArtCan, more details will be announced in my newsletters.