John Phillips – Painter

Can you tell us about yourself and your background as an artist/maker?

My biggest influence was my father who was an artist. He introduced me to many artists studios and galleries in my youth. That was a wonderful start to my lifelong passion. I studied graphic design and illustration at college, followed by a few years in London, freelancing. I never stopped painting through that period and eventually decided to concentrate on painting exclusively. I have had many opportunities to exhibit around the country including a period running a gallery on the quay in Exeter.

Tell us a bit about your creative process.

These days I work mainly in acrylic and mixed media, although I love painting in oils. Generally, my work is built up in layers of washes and then mixed media forming the background structure and texture. I like to work scraping away colours and media, forming the final structure and composition. I aim to create a dynamic aesthetic that will grab the viewers attention. I feel my approach the formation of the work is much like a sculptor would do, taking away media rather than adding to it.

Where you do usually work from?

My studio is the ground floor back room with view over the garden. It has wonderful glass doors that let the light flood in. I do all my work there, including any computer work. No studio is big enough though, and I am thinking of converting the outbuilding to a storage area. Ideally I would like to work on much larger canvases in the future.

Have you developed any unique or unusual techniques in your work?

I have used wax in recent years to give another raised, three dimensional look to the final image. I like to explore shape and space that will not imply recognised images or archetypes. Hopefully the viewer will make their own minds to what the painting says to them. there is a lot of blue involved in my work. I have a definite passion for the azure/turquoise part of the spectrum. this no doubt relates to me association with the coast. I was born on the Dorset coast.

Tell us about a favourite piece of work and what it means to you.

Its very difficult to chose a favourite painting as I'm always working on 5-6 new ones and enjoying the exploration. However I believe that "Fractured flow" represents all the aspects that I employ at the moment. It contains the layers, the dynamic colours, the textures and the structure using mixed media. The final work has impact and hopefully attracts the attention of the viewer.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

The artists that continue to inspire me are Howard Hodgkin, Albert Irvin and John Hoyland for their use of colour and the ability to lose myself in the vivid dynamism of their wonderful work. I adore Peter Lanyon and his son Matthew for their approach to form and freedom they show in mark making.

What advice would you have for artists who are just starting out?

My advice to artists that are just finding their own passion for art is, to keep painting and drawing as much as possible. Don’t let self doubt and self criticism get in the way of exploring everything. All artists are their own severest critics… Don't forget to study art history, read as much as you can and most importantly visit as many galleries and studios you can. Nothing is a substitute for seeing art first hand.

If you sell your work, can you tell us more about how you do this?

Selling work is a byproduct of creating art and I will explore any and every aspect to get work out there and sold. I would advise people to try not to fall for the many scams there are to pay for exhibition space unless you are guaranteed good footfall in an existing market place. I have had a lot of sales via the internet and although time consuming, it will pay off eventually. Instagram/Facebook and Twitter but also an individual web site are essential. Put yourself out there, find fellow artists.

How has lockdown changed your creative process?

The most positive thing that I have got from the lock down this year has been, having even more time to explore different avenues of painting. I have defiantly found I am working longer hours on some. I have fortunately not run out of supplies due to online shopping!

I have utilised some old paintings, rubbing down and painting over the ones that I felt were not as successful as I would have liked…. I have been very grateful to social media to keep conversations going while contact has been limited.

Tell us about any future projects you have planned.

In terms of future projects go, I hope to be in contact with and working with art promoters and more curators over the next year to take my work to the next level.

See more of John’s work on his Worcestershire Artists page.

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