Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Yorkshire, in the North of England, and moved to a little town in the Midlands when I was pretty young. I studied fine art at Staffordshire University but left after 2 years. I gave up art for music for a while in the 90′s. In ’95 I played a gig in New York and met my wife, Ruth. We lived in London until 1999, and then moved to NY to live first in Brooklyn, and then here in Hastings after our daughter Bluebell was born.
Besides making art, what do you do, do you have a day job?
I teach painting to 7th graders at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. It’s been really good for me — I spend a few days before each class just trying things out to explore with the kids, which sometimes has the added benefit of inspiring my own work. I used to work at the Whitney Museum, installing shows and also at the warehouse where they store their catalogue. I loved working there. They’ve got screens and screens of paintings that you don’t normally see, so when things were slow I had the opportunity to really pay attention to works that I hadn’t known before.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I suppose my inspiration comes in various forms – sometimes from the idea of forcing myself to make a painting whether I feel like it or not. Other times it’s from looking at another artists work or from seeing an interesting building or a landscape vista while I’m riding my bike around. I do like to collect various found objects, pieces of wood and and bits and bobs to be surrounded by. They can kick start an idea. Ultimately I suppose I’m inspired by the attempt to make something of a high quality.
How would you describe your creative process?
Trial and error. I try not to conform to my own taste too much. I can become uncomfortable with something that I initially liked and at that point will do something fairly dramatic to change it. Sometimes I set myself a goal or challenge. For example, last year I painted 40 8” x 8” landscapes, each with one element of industry – an oil rig or some imaginary rendition of a horrible NJ turnpike-style factory. Some worked immediately and others needed a bit more time.
How do you get out of your creative blocks?
I don’t really have ruts but I do have times when I just don’t like what I’m doing. At that point, I’ll take some time off or go on a bike ride then come back and make something without worrying about what it might be. I always have a few things on the go at once so I don’t get too bogged down.
What is the most positive and inspirational thing about being an artist for you?
It doesn’t get any better than doing what you want to do. I can come into my studio and forget about everything else. I also like the idea that my work exists in other people’s lives after they’ve bought a piece.
What is the most difficult thing about being an artist for you?
Worrying about what people think. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter.
If you could visit the studio of any artist or designer, who would it be?
Picasso. I recently looked at about 200 works he completed between 1914–1920 and didn’t recognize most of them. It’s amazing how much work he did and how he played and experimented without inhibition.
Has any advice influenced you?
I worked on a huge Sol Lewitt mural at the Embassy Suites in downtown Manhattan in 1999 when I first came to the States. It was a massive project, with 50 artists working on it. The organization and discipline required to finish the mural was impressive. That was a big turning point for me and was a moment when I realized that I had to knuckle down a little bit. Before that I’d had a more naive and childlike notion of what being an artist was all about. I’ve since learned to take that discipline and apply it to my own methods.
Do you have any advice for artists just starting out?
Go for it. Start making things and don’t worry. It will take a while to find yourself so just keep on working.
How do you balance work and family?
My wife is really into me being an artist. My daughter is at an age where she can do her own thing so I have time to work even after she comes home from school. She will sometimes come into the studio, when it’s not too cold, and paint with me. I’ve used some of the stuff she makes in my work.
Do you have any main goals for now or the future?
I want to continue to make art. Make bigger art and more of it. I’d like to show in more galleries this year. My long-term goal is to live on the Mediterranean, have my own pool and a huge old barn for my studio!
Do you have a blog or website?
Thanks so much Tim! I enjoyed it.