Thursday, May 27, 2021

DPW Spotlight Interview: Max Panks

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Max's painting "Fishing in Costa Maya, Mexico" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Max's DPW Gallery Page:

Max Panks is a London based actor who started his career as a watercolour landscape artist in January 2017. He had always nurtured a passion for drawing and portraiture from an early age but stepped away from his love of visual art to train as an actor in 2010. Now, Max creates beautiful watercolour landscape art as a compliment to the destinations that life takes him. Having worked as a performer on cruise ships, European tours, London theatre and more, he is able to keep adding to the wonderful diary of expressive landscapes with each new adventure.

What did you want to be growing up?

I excelled in art classes as a child, but I always saw myself onstage as a performer and I would dream of being a pop star. Then, in school I discovered a love for the shows that my music teacher would direct. I would take part in all of them. My first, when I was 11 was Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Mikado’ and my last, when I was 18, I played Danny Zuko in Grease. I then went to London to train in Musical Theatre and have been an actor here ever since. Of course there was always something in me that knew I should be painting too.

When did your artistic journey begin?

I always loved to draw, especially portraits. But I never gave it any serious thought until I was 23 in 2017, when I spontaneously decided I would do a painting every day for a year. After a while, people started to notice and even buy my work. 4 years later and I’m still nurturing a strong painting habit (though not quite daily anymore).

Fishing in Costa Maya, Mexico
(click to view)

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

Did you have long periods without creative expression? When did you get back on the horse?

When I was in University and for a few years after, I didn’t really pick up a pencil much at all. I studied Musical Theatre in London and my days were very full. I would occasionally experience a longing to draw and would sit and sketch for a day or two. However between auditions and working my side job in a bar, I did lose touch with my roots as an artist. I suppose this might be what led to my decision to paint every day. I felt that I had a responsibility to nurture and care for a talent that not everybody possesses.

What mediums and genre do you gravitate towards? Which ones don’t appeal?

I only paint with watercolours at the moment. I’d love to do some oils and I will when I have a bigger studio space. I like watercolours because they’re easy to travel with and don’t make too much of a mess. I also do a lot of pencil sketching, usually portraits.

The Gielgud Theatre, London
(click to view)

What was the process like of pinpointing your personal style or finding your voice?

I suspect I’m still at the start of what promises to be a very long journey when it comes to finding my personal style. I know what works and what won’t work, and I know what to look for when choosing a subject (most of the time). I try and paint out and about as much as possible and I have a habit of setting up my easel in some quite uncomfortable and busy spots, all because I’ve seen a shadow that I like on a building somewhere. I’m learning not to be worried what passers-by think but instead, use the frantic energy of my location to feed the work. I suppose the only secret is consistency.

Name an artist (or artists), well known or not who you admire. Why?

Herman Pekel, Alvaro Castagnet, Joseph Zbukvic.

They have such assertiveness within the style of their art. I’m trying to achieve a certain attitude in my own work that reflects that of the great’s.

House on the Hill - Corsica, France
(click to view)

If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger, creative self – What would that be?

I don’t think it would be useful to have done anything differently other than pay attention in business studies. 

Do you utilize any habits or tricks for winning the distraction and procrastination battle?

Well, usually if I’m distracted it means that I’m not interested in what I’m doing. When this happens it’s time to get out and walk through nature or take my paints through the city to try and kindle some inspiration. I look for long shadows and dramatic contrast. I go into galleries and observe my reactions to other people’s work. Sometimes I forget that a healthy diet along with a solid sleep routine is the foundation to everything – I can’t blame my mind for being distracted if I’m not feeding it with the correct fuel.  

Farmlands in Balcombe, West Sussex
(click to view)

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you push forward?

Self-doubt is a big part of growth and we need it to improve – So I don’t force those feelings away. 

I’m also learning the importance of breaks, although I haven’t gone longer than a week without painting since I started about 4 years ago. I find myself thinking about all the artists in the world who are thriving and living the life they love and I think – ‘that could be me one day if I keep doing what I’m doing’. I hope I’m right!

What are some of your long or short term goals for yourself or your art?

To me, the most important thing is that I keep painting. It’s interesting how I can look back at an old painting of mine and be instantly transported to who I was and what I was feeling back then. If I was pleased with it at the time, I can even remember the song I was listening to at the time I was creating that piece. My overall long term goal is to make a nice living selling art while acting on stage or on TV as often as someone will have me.

Apartments in San Juan, Puerto Rico
(click to view)

What does success mean to you personally?

A compliment on my work, a painting that sells, a great meal that I made, a good investment, a funny joke, a great day out. Success will come many times, but growth lies in failure; they’re both sides of the same coin.

What is one of your proudest moments in your creative life?

My first professional acting job in London’s West End. I played ‘Tootles’ in a Peter Pan story set during the First World War. The show was called Lost Boy and I loved every second of it from the rehearsals right till the end of the 4 month run in Charing Cross Theatre.

Thanks, Max!

© 2021 Sophie Marine

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