Art Finder: How did you become an artist?
Paul West: While I studied as a graphic designer, my design education was heavily influenced by observational/life drawing and the love of a more ‘analogue’ way of mark making including etching and screen printing which has always been the main influence in my creative life. As I’ve got older it’s become a passion to focus on developing these talents more.
AF: How do you create your works? What’s the process and how long does it tend to take?
PW: Before I start any work I like the preparation process; spending time focusing on the canvas or page, making preparatory sketches/paintings or masking areas. Creating layer masks on my works to separate – say, the foreground from the mid ground and apply different textures to this. When the ‘rules’ have been set I like to break them down when I actually start the artwork. Generally a charcoal can take me up to a week depending on the complexity. When I paint I try hard to create the picture in one go as I think emotive art is about capturing a moment in time, and the purity of an image can lose it’s energy if revisited and laboured too many times. I can’t always work to that notion, but I try.
Do you have a particular medium that you prefer to work with and if so why?
It varies as I work with two different stylistic mediums; one is a more ‘graphic’ monochrome charcoal aesthetic, and the other is a more ‘fluid’ colour (paint) one. My work tends to revolve around volume – by that I mean balancing areas of quiet space with a more frenetic burst of energy. For my mono works I use charcoal for the mid tone and Carbon sticks for the deep blacks. I like to work into my pictures layering charcoal, deconstructing with putty rubbers and building layers again, and I counter this with a more ‘refined’ graphic focus (this could be a copse of trees, or a building on a horizon for example). With my painting, whenever I can paint outdoors I do. In the wetter months when I can’t paint en plein air I will refer to my sketchbooks of techniques and moods I recorded when I saw a particular landscape, and build from there in the studio.
What aspect of the Artfinder Pop-Up are you most excited about?
There are so many talented artists without gallery representation in need of exposure, and an opportunity to meet fellow artists of a like mind, or people who may be interested in buying their art. I have always been a huge fan of Artfinder’s remit to the arts community and the way you genuinely care about your artists – so this promises to be a fascinating extension of your brand.
Which artworks are you planning on bringing to the Artfinder Pop-Up?
I come from Dorset – there is a saying that as you get older your roots get deeper, and my work is all about landscapes and the vastness of our beautiful countryside. I’ll exhibit some larger charcoal landscapes and my 12×12″ painted landscapes that I feel most representative of where I am at the moment.
Is there anything that particularly inspires you?
Northumbria. Barren landscapes, solitary trees, the secrets of woodlands, huge horizons and sky.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
Striving to capture a feeling through a mark exactly as you see it in your minds eye.
The torment of knowing that you never really will… but that keeps you going, so the cycle continues!
What is your favourite work of art and why?
I was absorbed by The Yellow Christ at Gauguin’s exhibition years ago at the Tate. It felt so incredibly ‘modern’ for the time (1889) and the painting feels like it’s created from one hue, compartmentalised within the shape of the cross, the horizons are pronounced against the verticals in five distinct bands. I haven’t been that captivated by an artwork since.
Although Hockney's "Winter Timber" came close.