First, tell me a bit about yourself! Are you from Scotland originally?
I’m originally from Aberdeen and in 2009, after some time spent travelling, I moved to Edinburgh to study at Edinburgh College of Art. I’m surprised that almost 10 years later I’m still here, but there are worst places you could live. I definitely feel a lot more settled than I have in the past, but the desire to travel is always there.
Your work is quite geometric, often relating to architecture and contemporary landscape. Can you tell me about your practice? Are there any particular themes or ideas that your paintings point to or are influenced by?
I guess like most things in life my practice has been strongly influenced by my surrounding environments and experiences over the years. After leaving school I spent six winter seasons snowboarding in France and California. My first two seasons in particular were spent living in these 1960s concrete, purpose-built resorts in the Alps. It’s such a striking environment: these huge man-made structures in contrast with the stark, mountainous landscape. Similarly the pylons and chairlifts which dot the terrain when you’re up in the mountains. Those six seasons were a life-affirming experience and consequently the mountains still have a big pull on me and my work.
I think the landscape has always been a primary source of inspiration for my work and continues to be, including the man-made structures which inhabit it. During art school I spent some time looking at the work of architects, particularly those associated with the post-war modernist movement and artists that were similarly influenced by them such as Toby Paterson.
What is your process like? How much do you plan ahead before starting a new piece?
My process is still developing and changes slightly with each body of work, as does the time spent planning a piece. Initially I would begin with a sketch or collage and then develop these into paintings. More often than not I’ll start with a photograph. I usually work from my own photos unless I find an image which particularly interests me. Sometimes a photograph is all I need and I’ll paint directly from a single image. Other times I’ll develop a painting using a range of different images which I’ll play around with in Photoshop. My Ps skills are pretty basic but enough to experiment with the composition and scale of things.
You also work in a variety of media, painting being one, but also printmaking and installation — do you consider painting to be the basis of your practice from which you expand, or do you find that you’re equally interested in different processes?
I’m definitely interested in a lot of different processes but for me painting is the one I feel most comfortable with and the medium which holds the most interest. I spent a lot of time in 3rd year screenprinting which I think had a huge impact on my painting practice. I took a screenprinting module whilst on exchange in Boston, MA and was totally fascinated by the CMYK four colour process printing. I’d love to do a lot more printing but at the moment painting takes priority. Plus it’s something which I can do without needing additional equipment.
I also really enjoyed experimenting with installation, often using photographic projections. I think it’s actually photography which seems to be the basis of my practice. It’s definitely the starting point for the vast majority of my work regardless of media.
What is your studio space or workspace like?
I’ve just recently moved to a Wasps’ studio complex in an old lemonade factory, the second time I’ve moved in a year! At the beginning of last April I moved into a large, late 60s office block right in the centre of Edinburgh. The space was a lot bigger than my previous one and I think the move really helped push my paintings forward both in scale and composition. Unfortunately we got evicted to make way for higher paying tenants but I was lucky to find my new space and fortunately there’s no risk of eviction this time. At the moment it’s still pretty bare, apart from whatever I’m working on, but I’m sure things will find themselves onto the walls over time.
Is there a tool or an object in your studio that you couldn’t live without?
My trusty scalpel.
What is the best advice you’ve received so far? Is there any advice you’ve received that you’ve been glad you decided not to take?
I can’t think of anything specific but it’s most likely come from my mum. She also did a painting degree at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen back in the 90s so is my go-to for any advice, art related or otherwise. Plus her art knowledge is a lot better than mine.
What do you consider “success” to be as an artist?
Being able to live comfortably, continuing to make art and pursue other hobbies such a travelling. Ideally I’d love to be able to live solely off my art but if it’s still a major contributing part of my life then that’s good enough. I try not to judge my success against others (however hard) and be grateful for where I’m at.
What do you consider to be the most challenging thing about working as an artist or pursuing art?
There’s a lot of challenging things about working as an artist; trying to stay motivated through the moments of self doubt and rejections. I guess it depends what you want out of your art but you definitely have to be proactive and put yourself out there. To pursue any art form professionally requires a lot of time, hard work with often very little money. It’s hard to stay focussed when you’re having to spend time away from your practice in jobs completely unrelated but it makes you value your studio time more and hopefully in the end it will pay off.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you’re currently working on?
I’m just back from a trip to the Alps so have lots of new photographs to work from. I’m going to be exhibiting with the Arusha Gallery this year so am currently working on a new body of work for that.
Anything else you would like to add?
Hi, thanks for reading! 🙂
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