Inspiration by the drawings of Picasso and Matisse to create Pop art

‘I have always produced strong imagery working from a Fine Art background and am interested in the technicality of painting. I choose to use media imagery and fashion photography as a starting point because of interests in 1st wave Pop Art from the 1950’s. I feel that my work represents the original themes in Pop art and my interest in taking these themes and using them in a contemporary context.

For my figurative work I am constantly collecting images from current print magazines, whether I am working on an on-going series of paintings or not. I choose an image which to me is solely strong in form to begin with, this is most important for me to produce a strong painting. As a Pop artist I am using images which the media choose to represent modern times and my choices then represent an interest in strength of imagery not necessarily the subject matter.

After 15 years of loving this work, I carefully select and group images together to start working on a series of drawings. I now do this every two years so that the contemporary images are more relevant to my work to represent what is current, which relates to Pop art aspect. I work with groups of drawings for months at a time to manipulate the image, and then continue through to painting. The three most important aspects to my paintings are line work, using primary and secondary lines, colour, the mixing of colour, and composition elements, using formal or informal composition. I have always worked in series of paintings. The numbers of paintings to a series can be anywhere from three to twenty. When in the middle of a series, this is when I decide how far it will go and how many paintings will be made. A theme will run through each series without the paintings necessarily looking like they are in a series together. For the series to be completed there needs to be a resolve of an idea or ideas. Although the initial series of drawings may be large. I tend to keep looking at the series of drawings during painting each piece, and only choose what I think are the strongest images/ figurative forms to turn into a painting to add to the series.

Mixing colours of paint is very important to the progress of each artwork. I mix my paints in tubs which I have used for many years, these contain left-over paint from one artwork to the next and I never use paint straight from a tube. Even the whites which I used contain red, yellow, or brown in its mix. As I work on each image, I minimise details and line. I am very interested in minimalism, abstraction, strength from line work and deconstructing formal composition. Although my paintings are more commonly compared to Pop Art because of my use of a black ‘comic book’ line, it is in fact a style inspired by the drawings of Picasso and Matisse, whose use of strong line work firstly captured my attention in the late 1990’s.

From my experiences from living in Dublin, a brief stay in New York City and now being based in London, it has given me the opportunity to find out what mediums and themes that I am most passionate about. I have found that using acrylic {which is quick drying} on canvas, allows me to achieve the right colour pallet. I use large size canvas to embrace the strong colours and line throughout my work. In the past I have created series’ of paintings dealing with Japanese advertisements of the 1920’s, Silver Screen film still’s and Fashion photography of the 1960’s. Over the last 13 years my work has evolved with the use of contemporary images which I have used to forward ideas. I am very interested in portraying figures in a contemporary manner and my paintings have been compared to many different art genres, from Realist to Pop Art, Fashion Illustration and even Art Deco.

I have an interest in contemporary artists such as Miles Aldridge, Claes Oldenburg, James Turrell, Michael Heizer and Lisa Brice. I have a strong interest in 19th and 20th century Scandinavian art and visit different Scandinavian art museums annually to study the work. Visiting London exhibitions in galleries and museums which deal with contemporary art, fashion design, past art movements and cultural history is very important to the production of my work. I find that it allows me to focus on the importance of working with different themes, and always to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. I also have an interest in Horticulture, Astronomy and Film Noir.’

Written by Emma Coyle

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