Giles Ward was recently approached by a college art tutor on behalf of one of his students and asked about his art and inspiration:
Who or what inspired you to take up art?
It always felt very natural to me to draw and paint as a child. I loved art at school and it’s something I would do at home as well. I wasn’t very academic, so it was natural for me to take it into my working life. The school I was at didn’t do ‘A Level’ art so I had to fight to go to another school to do my art exams.
Which artists are you inspired by?
I am very passionate about art history as well. I read a lot of art books and go to exhibitions whenever I can. I will get inspiration and ideas from all forms of art, not necessarily painters who do similar work to me. Favourite artists from history include Caravaggio, Goya, Otto Dix, Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp and so many others. My current favourite contemporary painter is the American George Condo. His work is very graphic and surreal. A British painter, working in a similar field to me, that I admire, is Cornish environmental artist Kurt Jackson. Do check out his wonderful work: www.kurtjackson.com.
Do you get frustrated if a piece you are working on doesn’t turn out how you want, and if so what do you do about it?
Definitely! I use a lot of experimental techniques in the pictures I create. That way I surprise myself as I’m working. I am not a ‘realist’ painter trying to replicate what I see. I am trying to find inspiration from my subject to create unique images. The downside is that experiments can often not work. Strangely, I can tell if a piece is working very early on, equally I can tell if a piece is going to fall short. I will keep working until I get close to what I wanted to achieve. I have been known to sand over / splatter / dip / cut up a piece that isn’t working in a hope to create something new and surprising.
Have you always painted marine life?
I only started painting professionally five years ago. Prior to that I worked in graphic design and advertising. I have always painted, but I wanted a subject that people could connect with. Marine life seems to have resonated. I am inspired by the broader natural world and all the colours and textures you find. Especially the smaller things that are all around us. That could be acorns, leaves, feathers, shells, bugs – the details in those magical tiny things in the natural world that we all walk past every day.
Have you ever painted fish in their natural habitat?
No. It would be too difficult because I like to create lots of layers to my work, they build up slowly over time. Instead, I like to source my subjects (from fishmongers and markets) take them home and photograph them in the design I want to create and then work from the photos.
You use a wide range of materials, what inspires you to experiment with different materials?
I love surprises! I love playing by splashing paint or layering textures. Things happen that you can’t plan for when you mix different paint or materials, that way I keep surprising myself. I think a lot of creativity comes from messing about and playing.
How long does it take you to make a painting?
It really varies. Because I create heavily textured layers it can take quite a long time between stages to dry. It might take 6 to 8 weeks for a piece to be finished. I tend to work on number of pieces at once.
Do you paint for pleasure, and if so what do you paint just for your own enjoyment?
I do like to paint other things for myself. I also experiment with other creative forms – making things, sculpting, collage, drawing. As a painter I think it is important to keep trying different techniques. I have recently been painting some large ‘coloured tonal’ canvases. They are abstract mood spaces. I was inspired by seeing another artist’s work, loving it and wanting to try something similar.