“I think I pursued art more than anything else at a young age because I was told I was good at it, so it encouraged me to develop the skill and practice. I think my life really revolves around artwork. Going to University and to be surrounded by other like minded types was amazing and relaxing at the same time, since we all thought about things at the same level. It’s a shame I feel I’ve lost this creative ability a little as it’s harder to come up with newer images which stand out. I won an art competition which gave me a free Euro Rail pass so I did the “travel bug” thing where I travelled all around Europe by myself for a couple of months, but based it on visiting art galleries within the different countries.”
After I finished my art degree in 1999, it was hard to make a living painting full time. At that time, the Dot com boom was taking off, so I taught myself how to use a computer (having never used one before) and started to design websites for others and even did it full time in Central Government a couple of months later. I think I got carried away and spent less time on my artwork, but web and graphic design is quite close to painting and drawing.
Painting on canvas and wood are pretty different. Canvas can be a bit more forgiving, where mistakes can be covered up with layers of paint but with wood, each mark stays on the picture. My style of painting is quite detailed, I use brushes like 0/2, 0 and 1 sizes which are quite small…so for example the recent Invisible Woman piece which is 150×100cm took about 2 months to finish. As for art sales, I don’t remember when I first sold one…I think it was either a commission or a postcard type landscape, very cheesy and not very good.
I do remember a funny story of a commissioned work in France. I was walking past a kebab shop with a canvas in my hand. The owner called me over and asked me to paint a picture of his niece. She wasn’t the most attractive woman, but the idea of getting paid as a student and the possibility of free kebabs made me accept the commission. After a few days I gave him the finished painting, he looked at it strangely like it wasn’t good enough, but I think it was part of his negotiation technique on getting the price lower (which worked!). As I was walking out the door, I wondered what he’d do with the picture and saw him hanging it behind the spit, so all the fat splashed all over …strange guy!