How did you first get interested in painting the way you do?
It was a whole process that I went through. I've worked in a lot of different medias, like music and sculpture, so it's much more to do with the concepts behind it than rather literally deciding to paint these hardly physical things.
The fact that sometimes it's more powerful to have just one part which is more extreme became an interest of mine. I started to thin it down more and more and have more concentrated areas of build up. I realised that what I find interesting is how fast a pace we move at at the moment. I can't slow it down, but I can create some sense of pause.
How do you determine what you are and aren't going to paint?
I make a lot of calculations. It might be hard to imagine when you look at the work, but I find it helpful. It's almost like bars in music. I have bars within the image. I start from certain points, like a corner of an eye or a head, then from there I build it up or take it away.
I have a photograph, and then I make a grid. I count how large my canvas is and how large the actual image is. Then I start with one point and make measurements. I never know completely beforehand how that's going to pan out. Sometimes you start painting an ear but then you take it out again because you realise you want to emphasise the eye more. Again though, it's a bit like music. I always want to have a slight off-beat.
How does an off-beat work in a painting?
If you put a dot on a painting in a certain space when people look at it it falls off the canvas. Visually it feels like it's falling off the space. You can play with that, just like how there's an idea of how a human face has a perfect symmetry but the slight off-symmetry is the thing that makes a character. I like the notion of always making it fall off and then picking it up again so it just about holds it together. If you make it not have any off-beats then it'd be too harmonious and too boring to look at. It'd just be a perfect copy of how an image is constructed or something.
Do you feel like from working that way you've learnt about how people perceive images?
I don't know if you can ever know how people really see things. I guess that's the interesting thing about interaction, or making art and seeing what people think. I've learnt that sometimes people get angry. They run out of my shows. I used to think that was really upsetting, but now I just think it's an interesting discourse. Maybe the same people would have gone into another space and done the same thing, but not realised they were angry. I prefer to have at least some kind of discourse there.
How do you determine your subject matter?
I think it's related to where you're at. When I started painting, my parents had just retired so it was the first time in their lives that they started doing loads of social activities. All these groups of people just get together and go on boat trips and have picnics. My parents are in loads of these clubs as well, book clubs, bridge clubs. I thought it was interesting how they arranged their social time. It's nice to paint something personal that may also refer to broader universal themes, like how we perceive a picnic or how we look at those more archetypal images.