Thursday, June 13, 2013

DPW Spotlight Interview: James Coates

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

To enter to win James' painting, "Port and Peach" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing his interview.

From James' DPW Gallery page:

James Coates is an artist working out of a studio in Sheffield, UK. He works mostly in oil paints and finds inspiration in reflections, surfaces and textures. In his paintings he aims to celebrate and capture the simple beauty that can be found even in ordinary everyday objects.

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

As a child, I was always drawing and painting. I was always the best in the class and thought for most of my childhood that I would become an artist. I am not sure what happened to that ambition. I drew and painted often even into my late teens, but I think that at some point I realised that I wouldn't be able to pursue art as a career. Things were different then, there was no internet, no Daily Paintworks! I suppose I just didn't know where to start.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I didn't really make any art for over 20 years. I only picked up a pencil and paper occasionally when a flash of inspiration struck. I took the traditional year out to travel the world, which lasted seven years and then returned to the UK and studied law. I worked as a lawyer for many years.

Suddenly, last year the artist inside me could not take it any longer and I started drawing in my spare time, in pencil and charcoal. Then I tried painting with acrylics for the first time, with mixed results. Some artists do wonderful work with acrylic paint, and I shall try them again one day. However, I needed more control. I needed paint that didn't dry so quickly. I work slowly.

I think the idea of working with oil paints can be quite terrifying. There is so much mystery about them. Take it from me, there is no mystery, no magic involved.

What a revelation! Now I could do exactly what I wanted and because of the drying time of oils, take as long as I needed.

Some people are surprised to learn that I started painting in oils in October 2012. On 4th February 2013 I stopped being a lawyer and became a full time painter. So far, with the support of my wonderful wife, family and friends it is going very well. I only wish I had done it sooner.

Port and Peach
(click to see original image)

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

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

Not so far. Now that I have started I hope I never stop.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

As mentioned, charcoal, acrylics and oils. I tried watercolours recently which I enjoyed. As I usually work in oils I had to adapt my way of thinking for watercolours which was a challenge. I hope to do some more soon.

I love painting portraits and am hoping to expand in this area.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

Oil paints have definitely stuck. They are by far the most versatile medium in my opinion. I guess that is why they have been around for so long.

Coffee Cup
(click to see original image)
Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

When it comes to materials, I am open minded. Everything has been used by artists. I often try to think of materials that have not been used by artists. Every material you think of has probably been used at some time by an artist somewhere. I really would like to experiment with as many materials as I can when I have the time. I am very keen to have a go at printmaking. In terms of genre, I would like to try some abstract painting.

Who or what inspires you most?

You could ask me that question every day and each time you would probably get a different answer. Firm favorites include Velazques, Hals, Sargent, Matisse, Titian, Chardin, Courbet, Rebrandt, Vermeer and Bacon to name but a few. I admire any painter that has mastered the craft and can also engage the viewer and successfully provoke thought or emotion. My latest favorite is Gerhard Richter. I like his figurative work and also his abstract work.

(click to see original image)

What does procrastination look like for you?

I'm English so it looks like a cup of tea.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

I always think it would be a good idea to plan my week in advance so I know exactly what I am painting. However, this never happens and I end up running around the house in the morning looking for inspiration. Luckily my kids are good at coming up with ideas for me. By the time I have taken them to school I usually have an idea. If not, then I go down to the shops and usually something catches my eye and hopefully it is some kind of cream cake.

Fruit Jellies
(click to see original image)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

As above. However, I am becoming increasing fussy about the composition of my still life paintings. It can take me an hour or so to set it up perfectly.

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

Every time I sit in front of a blank canvas it feels as though I am painting for the first time. I hope this makes my paintings look fresh. From a practical point of view I think that the most important lesson I have learnt as a painter is to keep your brushes clean whilst you work to avoid colours getting where they should not be.

So far, I have not had a problem with burnout. I think that composition is important to make paintings engaging. I think about composition a lot and would like to create paintings with greater narrative . This is easier to do with figurative work, which I hope to do more of, but it can also be done with still life if you choose the right objects and compose them in the right way.

Three Peaches
(click to see original image)

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


What makes you happiest about your art?

Painting is both the most frustrating and the most rewarding activity. Most of the time I spend many hours on a painting not knowing how it is going to turn out (and usually thinking that it is not going very well) until somewhere near the end when suddenly it all starts to come together.

It is a kind of magic that you can't get from anything else. There are, of course, times when it doesn't work out, but those times you have probably learnt a lesson. Other than making myself happy, I love it when my painting makes others happy. I get great feedback on my blog, Facebook page and Daily Paintworks. Keep it coming!

Thanks, James!

© 2013 Sophie Marine

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