John is a contemporary artist based in the city of Liverpool, growing up in Kirkby, he was extremely proficient in art and loved it during his time at school, he did not consider making it a career until his road to recovery lead him back to his childhood passion......
Q: Can you tell us about your Artistic background/education?
A: I don’t really have much of an artistic background, I was into art as a young kid but really became interested when my year 6 teacher, Mrs Willis took the time to teach us all aspects of art and made it fun. I went on to do art GCSE, it felt really natural and I feel like my art teacher let me do my own thing, I do remember my teacher being disappointed that I only got marked an A in my final exams….that was because someone sabotaged my coursework…I’m not bitter honest!
That’s as far my ‘education’ goes, I never wanted to do a degree in art, I don’t believe you need a degree in art to be an artist.
Q. Do you work in a studio or from home?
A. I started out working from a coffee table in my living room, as things progressed I managed to persuade my wife to give up the spare room and turned it into a very small studio. When we moved house a few years ago, it was on the condition that I could have my own purpose built studio in the garden, couldn’t have cared less what the rest of the house was like as long as I had my own space with a coffee machine. This is still quite small but I have everything I need and I only have to step out the back door and I’m in work, so in answer to your question, I work from a studio at home.
Q. Who are your Art Influencers? inspirations?
A. Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, knowing their backgrounds I feel like I have an emotional connection and I love their style of painting. I love how thick Van Gogh applies the paint and that he paints on raw canvas, like myself.
I love how free Pollock is with paint and I could listen to him talk all day!
Rembrandt is another favourite, I love his paintings although I have zero interest in painting like him but I do think he is amazing, like no other. I actually proposed to my wife in front of Rembrandt’s self portrait at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the staff were in on it and I got them to change Rembrandts bio to my proposal, which I stole from Rocky Balboa’s proposal in Rocky II.
Q. What helps get you in "the zone’ to create your work, music? out in nature? quiet?
A. It could be anything, sometimes it’s being in a bad mood. I find I can unleash on the canvas and create something amazing that doesn’t look anything like my mood did.
Sometimes I could be watching a film where a scene and specific colours might inspire me or sometimes I just wake up and think ‘I’ve got to paint this’
Music and motivational speakers definitely help me to stay focused. I have a diverse taste in music, shall we say. I listen to anything from Andrea Bocelli, Westlife, Queen, Celine Dion, Cast, Blue….this is just a quick scroll down my recently played list.
Q. Do you keep a sketchbook? How often do you use it and do you travel with it?
A. I have small, leather-backed sketch pad that I take away with me, you tend to have more time on your hands when you’re on holiday and I find it really relaxing. I like drawing other passengers if I’m ever on a train, It helps if they’re asleep, the sleepy ones make good sitters.
I sketch more on my iPad now for work, it’s just easier to get out at home when I need to draw and it saves on materials
Q. Where does a piece of work begin for you? Can you describe your process?
A. Probably on the iPad now, most sketches for commissions and my own original ideas start there. Once I’m happy with the image, I’ll staple my canvas onto the wall of my studio and get the image sketched up. I start with brushwork to block particular colours into where they need to be and then move on to pallet knife, I then finish off my with signature gold lines, what I like to call my JC linework….Yes I did refer to myself in the third person haha.
Q. What technique do you prefer to use?
A. Pallet knife, which I wasn’t brave enough to use until about 5 years ago!
Q. What are your most important artists tools?
A. My Pallet Knife and my coffee machine
Q What are your favourite materials?
A. I love using unprimed duck cotton canvas, I have been using Grantham’s acrylic brushes for years, I swear by them. I am really heavy-handed when I paint and they’re really durable.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I have a few private commissions that I’m working on which I will reveal over the next month or so. I am just finishing off a painting of The Vivienne, one of the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race which I have loved doing, so much colour in her eye make-up, lips, her contouring, I really enjoyed this one.
Q. Where can we see more of your work online or in person?
A. I’ll have a solo exhibition early next year which I will be announcing in December, until then you can go on my website which is artistjohncharles.com or check out my Instagram @artistjohncharles.
Photo credit: @dayvidbolton
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