Interview With Artist David Hunt

DH-002-090305Artist Statement

The focus of my work is synonymously related to nature and landscape. It is an investigation of nature, its forms, its sublimate captivation and the paradigm of how we align our position, perceptions and reactions to them.

Predominantly my subjects derive from arboreal environments, which I record with photography, sketch making, and through the internalisation of personal experience. Hence, when we find ourselves in an environment where the realisation of aloneness becomes internalised, there can be various responses. Angst, vulnerability, fear, adrenaline, but paradoxically, these feelings can also be interpreted as vision, freedom, liberation, and excitement. They can be either comforting or discomforting and this to me is a reflection of our individuality…

Q: What medium or mediums do you work with?

A: Currently I am working with various mediums which include but are not limited to: ink, PVA, oil paint, digital imagery on paper, on canvas.

I feel that restricting oneself to a single particular medium denies the artist a degree of creativity which cannot exist without the unpredictable nature of mixing mediums. It is at those times when the medium seems to take over that the artists sense of loosing control is in fact the artist at the height of his creativity.

Q: How long have you been an artist? How did you get started?

A: My first response to your question is; always. I think that everyone in their early life is an artist, but only a few of these artists learn how to continue being an artist. For me, I knew that I was an artist during my school years and enrolled on as many arts related classes as possible. I finished school at the age of sixteen in 1984, but was discouraged from pursuing a career in art. I became distracted by money and work and became an electronics engineer.

After about six years I felt empty and tired. I tried to fill this emptiness by enrolling on an evening course for advanced level fine art painting in 1990. This helped me but financial commitments meant that I had to continue working in electronics. Another eight years later and I had had enough. I became too disenchanted to continue in electronics.
I knew then that I must explore my potential as an artist, and so 1998 was a turning point in becoming the artist that I am now.

Q: Do you have any formal training or are you self taught?

A: My formal training, I suppose, really began in senior school with ‘O’ level Fine Art, Technical Drawing, and Craft Design Technology. As previously mentioned I then later earned an ‘A’ Level in Fine Art Painting on an evening course at college, this is where I was introduced to oil paint.

After my ‘A’ level, any advancement of my knowledge was self taught. I read books but mostly I just experimented with oil paint by trial and error. I soon learned that it is the errors or mistakes that one makes which ultimately advances ones skill. I might have been happy to continue self educating myself, but the reality of the modern art market is that qualifications count when it comes to finding representation in high profile galleries. Some artists manage to carve out an arena of critical debate around their work from being self taught, but in most cases a Degree is beneficial or even essential too an artists career, and so I began my Bachelors Degree with honours in fine art painting and drawing at the University of Northampton in the UK. I am entering my final year and graduate in 2010. I plan on continuing my studies to go on and earn a Masters Degree the following year.

Q: Do you have any favorite art supplies that you would like to recommend?

A: My painting is at times heavily impasto, and because of this I was studying Frank Auerbach whose painting is perhaps the most extreme form of impasto I know of. I was watching a DVD of Auerbach called ‘In the Studio’, and in one scene I spotted large tins of paint on his studio floor, I could not make out the brand but could see there were drops of colour on a white tin. I wanted to discover what paint Auerbach was using. After extensive googling I eventually found out. The brand is ‘R J Stokes’. . After having found the website, there was a statement about the paint by artist Edward Beale which confirmed that I had to buy the paint. It comes in 5 litre cans, an artists dream; I would recommend this paint to anyone who uses impasto in their painting.

Q: Do you work with any specific styles or subject matter?

A: I am not very keen on the use of the word style when it comes to painting. I would rather associate my work to a movement. It is not that I develop my work to become related to any particular movement; it is more a case of my developing work can be associated to our knowledge of these movements. I think it becomes a natural tendency for my paintings too navigate in a loosely synchronised manner, too the artist or artists I am studying at any given time. The Artists I am most deeply involved in studying right now are, John Constable, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, and Ian McKeever. All these artists have been associated with Romanticism and so by default my work is specific to the ‘style’ or movement of Romanticism and perhaps more specifically The Northern Romantic Tradition’.

As for subject matter, at first glance it might appear from my work that I am working with trees, or more loosely nature. Whilst this is true, I am also very conscious of the investigation of space and time related to nature, how we position ourselves within nature, and how this in turn relates us to the universe. So in a sense my subject matter might be described as an investigation of the sublime. I cannot really conclude this answer as I am deeply involved in my studies in order to understand my subject matter.

Q: Can you recommend any books videos or other resources that will help new artists?

A: I could tell you some of the books I have read, but these books might not be helpful to other artists. Books are an important resource of course and videos too, but my biggest recommendation would have to be, go and see paintings in a gallery or museum. It is just not possible to fully appreciate a work of art in a book reproduction. Go to the museum, and those works which capture your attention the most, read books about those artists. In this way you will soon find genuine influences too your own work.

Q: How do you get ideas to create a piece? What inspires you?

A: The source of my ideas is from raising questions as to what I am trying to achieve. My ideas are generated almost from the experience of creating the previous painting. Each painting I do either moves closer or further away from what I am aiming to understand.

I am trying to get to the heart of what Romanticism in painting is. The natural world is a great source of mystery, or at least it has been until recent scientific discovery makes our understanding of nature less mysterious. Artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries saw this awe of nature in landscape and seascape, in the moon, stars and sun. Contemporary artists also can make the connection between the sublime and nature, but I think now that our understanding of the universe is greater than ever before, the source of the sublime must lay in our own personal experience of the universe around us. To me the source of the sublime lay at a point which I call the psychophysical horizon. This is the point at which the physical world transcends into our unconscious.

Q: Are there any artists that have influenced you and why?

A: Yes, besides the ones I mentioned earlier, I also consider Peter Doig, Vincent Van Gogh and Michael porter to have an influence on my work. Peter Doig’s painting is all about the memory of places, I admire the effects he achieves with oil paint and also the scale at which he works, I was lucky enough to see a retrospective of his work at Tate Britain in London earlier this year. Vincent Van Gogh I admire because of his stubborn attitude to painting which, while keeping him from being identified as a master painter during his life time, ultimately proved to be ingenious and to my mind marks him as one of the true master artists of the 19th century. Michael Porter now lives and works in Cornwall. In the early stages of my degree, I studied his work as it was very close to what I was aiming to achieve. I learnt many techniques from watching him work in his studio. I might have to say that Michael Porter is perhaps the artist I have mostly been influenced by.

Q: Do you have a website you would like to share?

A: Yes, my website is http://www.david-hunt.net This website is intended to show some of my most recent work and while I concentrate mainly on painting, I also show some examples of my drawing, photographic and digital practices. If there is anyone interested in purchasing my work in order to help me raise financing for my Masters Degree, or if you have any inquiries regarding my work, please e-mail me at art@david-hunt.net

Q: Finally do you have any last words of advice for beginner artists?

A: Firstly enjoy what you do, this seems obvious enough but I think the thing is not to get too comfortable with what you create, I think that to be at your very best creatively, you really need to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, don’t be concerned with making mistakes as these are often responsible for the most interesting work of any artist.

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