When did you first become interested in painting?
I have had a natural flair for art from a very early age and have always been a creative person using my imagination to dream up ideas to make things, including 3D models of cars, aircraft and spacecraft, even designing colourful fishing lures with which I won a competition in the Angling Times when I was just 15 years old. I was always doodling with felt tip pens designing music album covers for imaginary bands. I then progressed to experimenting with many different kinds of painting medium which included watercolours, acrylics, oils etc. I always had a natural instinctive and intuitive ability for mixing colour which developed further with a little formal study, reading and training. This helped me to understand what I was actually doing which to me was second nature. Colour has always been an important feature in my work, more than drawing in monochrome pencil and charcoal; it’s the way the colour works that excites me and makes for an interesting visual result.
Did you always know you would become an artist or did you have other ideas?
I think I always wanted to be an artist of some kind but not the type that wears a beret, smock and easel, more of a studio painter creating with the facilities available to hand around me to experiment with. I originally wanted to be a TV cameraman but didn’t have the technical qualifications required so I opted for a profession in the world of 4 colour litho printing which progressed to digital printing where I continued to work in for more than 25 years. Despite the technical advancements in printing techniques I still had a penchant for using brushes and tools and creating things in a more traditional and hands on way.
Are you a full time artists and if so, how do you manage your time?
Painting was my free time passion and I produced a lot of exciting work which I exhibited and showcased in local and national physical galleries with quite a bit of success. This encouraged me to continue and create more, varying the styles and techniques, depending on current trends, fashions and general direction of what seemed to be attractive to the art buying public. I have now taken early retirement from my printing job and have more free time to devote to being creative and producing more paintings when the ideas excite me enough to transfer them to canvas. So I still don’t see myself as a full time artist in the professional sense but a full time creative person in the wider sense open to new opportunities at all times. I did a number of artist demonstrations for local art groups for a while but nothing in a formal teaching environment.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural forms and visual happenings around me, linked with my own vivid imagination. Art in nature is wonderful but sometimes fleeting so I collect visual ideas in the form of my own photos, quick sketches and designs and often snippets of foliage I pass on my travels and now have an ever increasing folder of creative ideas which I look through often to get me motivated.
How did your interest in landscapes and abstract art develop?
I have painted a wide variety of subjects from portraits of people and animals to landscapes and buildings, all in traditional and modern art styles, including surrealism and abstract work, but have settled into a semi-abstract landscape groove as it gives me the scope I most enjoy for experimentation, but is not totally removed from a recognisable subject matter.
You have a very distinctive style, have you always worked in this way?
I have actually painted using many different styles from delicate watercolours using fine brushes through to large brush acrylics to heavy bodied textured palette knife work and can turn my hand to most styles and techniques but I guess my overall artistic personality still puts a recognisable stamp on anything I produce, despite being diverse in its specific genre.
Are you influenced by any famous artists, if so who are they?
I have been inspired by many famous and professional artists over the years if not in style in sheer enthusiasm and motivation to continue. The impressionist artists including Monet, Cezanne, Degas etc. all are brilliant with colour. Picasso, Matisse, Chagall for their adventurous spirit and for their bold statement and attention grabbing abilities, Andy Warhol and more recently Damien Hirst and Banksy. But I think I am continually absorbing ideas whilst looking at other artists work in galleries, on the internet and in the media, generally in the same way that musicians are inspired and offer a nod to other recognised respected work. One of my all time favourite artists is Jean Miro but I have never been inspired to use his influence in my work I just enjoy his humour and playfulness and total originality of style and technique which can never be mimicked.
Could you please describe the practical process you go through when making a painting?
Always the ideas come first, including drawings and sketches on scraps of paper then rough outlines to the canvas after which I prepare the required selection of paints, sometimes using a limited palette of 3 process colours, other times a wider range of mixed hues, depending on the type of painting and subject matter. I mainly paint light to dark and usually work quickly from the top of the canvas down, sometimes over a light coloured ground or just direct to the canvas working the colour into under washes which I then overpaint building up to the final layers and adding any detail at the same time allowing scope for spontaneity and interesting progressions which occur as the painting develops, including any happy accidents which add to the uniqueness of the finished work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Always starts with coffee to focus the mind, then whatever happens next: sometimes it’s the toolkit sometimes it’s the art materials box. No day is ever typical. I paint and create whenever I can and I am inspired to do so and if a particular idea is ready for fruition it will be consuming and I will go for it and get stuck in. It’s not often I paint every day and I think a break between works is always beneficial; if I have ever done two paintings in a day then the second one is never as good as the first. The necessary energy has to be there and more importantly the right frame of mind. Happy artist, happy painting!
View more work by Art2Arts artist Kevin Braithwaite.