Have you always wanted to be an Artist?
My father was a gifted artist so my childhood was surrounded with paintings and indeed he influenced my painting style in the early days and although he encouraged me to go to art college I learnt more in his studio. At this stage, I was not able to make a living out of art so I trained to be a graphic designer. These were the days before Photoshop and the requirement was to be a proficient artist and I think I was. I worked in an agency specializing in Brewery and Wine industries so I got pretty good at drawing images of grapes barrels and foaming beer.
Following this, I eventually found myself in the fashion industry involved in design and branding working all over the world with various high street brands.
Through the years I kept up with my painting but in my fifties, I could eventually afford to open my studio as a full-time professional artist and as they say, the rest is history.
Life as an artist
I am lucky enough to live in a totally remote area of the beautiful Derbyshire countryside and my studio, small gallery and home, is an 18th-century mill which is a mile from the nearest village. Although I have traveled much of the world, my life now revolves around my studio and the solitude that it brings. I work in this room for at least five days a week and the days go quickly until it is time to walk to the pub which is I think is my greatest hobby.
Although I am surrounded by nature, most of my work is more industrial. I also do more graphic work for creative agencies covering housing, hotels and industrial projects. It also breaks the solitude meaning I can converse with human beings instead of talking to myself.
So, my work is a mixture of gallery art, commissions and agency work which I think is a good balance.
Artists who influence you
I know that we are all supposed to be influenced by certain artists but I don’t think that I am. I, of course, admire the great art of Turner, Van Gogh and Matisse but mine has been an experiment from when I learnt the basics from my Father who I also admired but was sure that I didn’t want to paint in his style which was more John Constable. I did observe the impressionists but I knew that I was moving towards an “expressionist” direction which looking back I was pretty ignorant about. I know now that my experiments were taking impressionism and turning it more funky and modern.
What is the way you like to work
I rise at a respectable time and I’m afraid that I have probably dreamed the previous night about whatever project I have on. This is a terrible weakness that I can’t get out of which can be stressful ( a stressed artist ???).
My studio is like a production line and there is paint being mixed and prepared. I only use oil which is semi-dried on cardboard to give a sticky consistency which is essential as I paint with knives and my fingers. My right hand is for the knife and my left is covered with a surgeons glove which I cover each digit with various colours and then it turns into a frenzy of dancing knives and fingers across the canvas. This is influenced by high volume music (I have no neighbours ) to send me on the journey. I can have up to 3 different paintings on the go but if I’m working on commissions I concentrate on that project.
Who would be your 3 dinner guests
Winston Churchill – Think of the stories he would tell, he was not just a fine leader and motivator he was a talented artist, historian, writer,
drinker and bricklayer.
Paul McCartney – The very best songwriter in history and was the backing track to my youth. As a boy from a boring little village in Yorkshire, he could tell me what I was missing in the sixties. I was there but not there if you see what I mean.
Audrey Hepburn – I’ve spent my whole life fantasizing that we were in love and just her voice was like an invitation to lick the cream from her gorgeous lips. I don’t smoke but for her, I’d even light her fag!
View Stewart Wilson’s full gallery.