Paul, have you always wanted to be an artist?
Yes. One of my earliest memories is of a page from a colouring book that I crayoned in and mum put in an old frame. She wrote my name on it together with my age (five and a half) and hung it on the wall. I was so proud that from then on the only thing I ever wanted to be was an artist. My family was incredibly poor, plus I was born halfway through WW2 so while I painted as a hobby all my life I had to take a “proper job” to pay my way. When I retired I had the time to take up art full time and sell my paintings on the internet.
You specialise in abstract art, has this always been your style of choice and if so why?
For a while I painted landscapes and enjoyed drawing buildings, exhibiting in a local bookshop and craft fairs. It was at a craft fair over twenty years ago that I became friends with a picture framer. As well as framing he also stretched canvas prints and made me some large canvases from remnants. Inspired by the likes of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock I turned to abstract expressionistic painting and enjoyed it so much that it’s still my favourite style.
How would you describe your creative process?
Every painting is an experiment and the result is always unexpected, which is why I enjoy it so much. Over time I have learned much about what works and what doesn’t. I start by applying layers of paint using different mediums such as acrylic oil and spray paints, then while the layers are still wet I add colours and allow them to flow into interesting forms with palette knife or pouring directly onto the canvas. Then I dry quickly using a heat gun so that the colours don’t merge too much.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Growing up in the 1940s with no TV I loved watching the changing patterns in the glowing embers of a coal fire. Nowadays I’m inspired by the awesome images we now have of our universe. Many of my paintings suggest nebulae and dramatic natural formations here on Earth.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Being a pensioner puts me in the happy position where I only need to work when I want to. In the summer that entails spending part of my day in the garden and part in my studio, while in winter most of my time is spent painting and stretching canvases. Evenings and Sundays I enjoy relaxing with a good book or surfing the internet. I enjoy taking the odd day off to go walking in the hills of Derbyshire or jumping on a train to London for the day.
Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?
I love the works of artists like Ronald Hunter and Inez Froehlich, and Arthur Rackham’s illustrations in a book of fairy tales I had as a child was a lot to do with my ambition to be an artist.
Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?
Very rarely. Time spent in my studio is the only chance I get for some peace and quiet without radio or TV noise. On the odd occasions I do play music it will be relaxing classical or laid back rock but it soon gets switched off.
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
Doubtful that anyone would welcome advice from an old guy like me however I would remind anyone who enjoys painting that there’s no such thing as bad art. The important thing is what you call it. If your pet portrait is less than perfect, it’s “impressionist”; if it looks like a five-year-old did it, “Naive” or “Primitive”; then if it looks like nothing on Earth, you have an “abstract”.
If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 guests, living or deceased who would they be and why?
My wife organises dinner parties.
What does the future look like for you?
At my age, I try not to think too much about the future but I see no reason to think I won’t carry on painting well into my dotage.
View Paul’s gallery here.