Thursday, March 14, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: Graham Berry

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings.

To enter to win Graham Berry's painting, "Lazing in the Park," go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing his interview.

From Graham's DPW Gallery page:
Graham Berry was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England. Graham studied Graphic Design at Blackpool College of Art, he later studied Illustration at Wimbledon College of Art. After graduating in 1971 he was employed as an Illustrator/visualiser at a small design studio in Soho, London. 
In 1976, Graham decided to go 'freelance' and has gone on to have a very successful career as an Illustrator, winning a DADA award for his Illustrations and also featuring in several Association of Illustrators annuals. 
In 1990, Graham moved back 'up North' to the Fylde coast, where he now lives with his wife, Pauline. Graham has had to move with the times and all his commercial illustration is now done digitally. It was this fact and the downturn in the economy which allowed time for Graham to return to his first love, painting and drawing.
Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I've always loved to draw and paint. My talent, such as it is, was inherited from my mother, who was a very gifted artist. A teacher at junior school told my mother that when I left school, I should go to art college. So I never really thought about doing anything else but going to art college. When I finally got to art college, I loved it. Although the course was for Graphic design, we were encouraged to draw as much as possible. When I completed my diploma I moved to London to do a post graduate course specializing in illustration. After completing my course, I stayed in London and was employed as an illustrator/visualizer in a small design studio in Soho.

Lazing in the Park
(click here to see original image)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the home page announcing Graham's interview.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

I've never considered myself a painter. Although I've drawn and painted most days for the past 40 years, it was as an illustrator. Any painting I did in my spare time were done to promote my illustration career. Only since I went 100% digital with my illustration work, can I separate myself as a painter. I consider the start of my painting only 2 years ago. My digital illustration is done in my downstairs office and my paintings are done in a spare bedroom upstairs, two totally separate places, both physically and mentally, which is very important to me.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with? Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away? Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

I have used most media, including Gouache, acrylic, oil, colored pencil, scratchboard, airbrush, woodcut, and pastel. Most of these have been mainly in my illustration work. Over the years, I have gradually specialized in watercolor, although some of my largest commissions were oil portraits. One of which was a racehorse owner and his two winning horses, measuring 40" x 60"! I do hope to produce more oil paintings this summer. I aim also to paint more outside instead of just from photos and sketches.

Old Boat, Sunderland Point
(click here to see original image)

You have an incredibly consistent style. How did you come about it?

I suppose my consistent style owes a lot to my experience as an illustrator, working from art director's briefs, tight deadlines, etc. You have to be able to produce work that is consistent with what is in your portfolio or your work will be rejected. Now as a painter, if a painting is not something I am happy with I will rip it up and start afresh. Somedays, I feel I'll never paint anything decent, but you've just got to work through it.

What does procrastination look like for you? What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

If I don't feel like painting, I will stretch 5 or 6 watercolor sheets and do the initial pencil drawings. That way, when I do feel more like painting, I can go straight at it. I must admit though, I am very self disciplined and if I need to get a painting done I will do it whether I feel like it or not.

Cotswold Sunshine
(click here to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I'm always on the look out for images that will make interesting paintings. I try to take my camera with me at all times, just in case I see something that appeals. Other times, I will go to a specific place or event with the intention of getting material for painting; usually I will do a series of paintings from those photos or sketches. At the moment, I am trying to include figures in my paintings. Figures always bring a painting to life and provide a narrative to the scene. I also look at other artist's work for inspiration, although I've only recently joined Daily Paintworks, the work I see on here is very inspiring.

Nuevo San Ramon
(click here to see original image)

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

Burn out does happen occasionally. If I feel it is happening, I concentrate on drawing and attend life drawing classes once a week. Recently, having read 'Expressive Figure Drawing' by Bill Buchman, I spent a month just going through the exercises in the book; it really changed the way I approached life drawing. Sometimes it is a good idea to get out of your comfort zone.

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Every painting I produce adds to my knowledge of what works or doesn't work. I've got quite a lot of painting books by contemporary artists discussing methods and materials; I devour them. I've also bookmarked hundreds of painter's websites. I read about their experiences and of course look at their work. It was in doing this that led me to first see Carol Marine's work and watch her Artbytes. That then led me to becoming a member of Daily Paintworks.

Going 'Cockling'
(click here to see original image)

What makes you happiest about your art?

Well the first thing is I just love painting, always have, but like most artists, I'm never really happy with my work. I'm always full of self doubt and self criticism. It can also be a very solitary life, so it is always good to hear positive feedback from other artists. It also makes me happy that someone likes my work enough to buy it and put it on their wall, that is the ultimate seal of approval.

Thanks, Graham!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you capture the light in your paintings. They make me feel happy.

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