West Studios is the home of talented local artist, and this month's cover star, Michael Claxton... It's also the home of S40 and S41 Local Magazines so we caught up with Michael for a chat.
How did you discover your passion for painting? "My passion for art started when I was incredibly young. My Parents always used to encourage both me and my sister to draw in the evenings. I remember being excited to start drawing as soon as we had finished our tea, I’d be ready with my paper and pencil case."
Could you share with us your professional journey? "When I was 16 I worked with a local gallery drawing and painting pet portraits. I then started painting portraits of people. That was my first taste of creating a little income from my art.
"After my A-Levels I worked in a photography lab printing large format photos for photographers and colour grading which gave me a great understanding of seeing and adjusting colours. From there I moved into the Graphic design department and learned all about the power of Photoshop and Illustration software.
"I started my first business as a Graphic designer and then later set up a business with my wife doing wedding and portrait photography.
"After creating mostly on a computer, I was feeling the pull to get back to my love of painting! Creating (mostly) detailed photo-realistic artworks, I was keen to push myself in new ways and explore and experiment with new mediums and mark-making without the constraints of having to create a likeness."
Where do you draw inspiration from and how did you arrive at your style of painting? "I travel around the UK coastline in my campervan as well as walking in the Peak District which is on my doorstep, taking in the ever-changing light over the sea and landscapes. Working from memory I arrived at a style that created an emotion and a feeling of a place rather than painting a specific place. I wanted to push myself and create art from within to see what appeared."
Michael has been exhibiting his work for over ten years with great success. Has your new style been getting the same response as your previous work? "I exhibited the first eight paintings of this new style at Ripon Cathedral, all my paintings sold and I had a lot of interest from galleries and an agent. That was such a great response and gave me a lot of confidence that I was ready to go in this new direction."
What do you love most about being an artist, and what is your creative process? "I love starting a new canvas, that’s the most exciting part for me, the endless possibilities, working without fear! Creating a palette of paint clears my mind and then filling a canvas with colour and being guided by the paint. Creating textures and playing with colour combinations until something arrives.
"As the painting starts to reveal itself by adding and taking away paint, I usually stop and don’t look at it again for a few days. I will start another painting sometimes working on four or five paintings coming back to see them with fresh eyes.
"I generally work on a single painting for a couple of hours at a time putting all my energy into it, then taking a break before doing the same on another piece.
"My aim is to create atmospheric paintings that stir emotions while also creating a sense of calm and tranquillity."
Michael is exhibiting at Art in the Gardens in the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield on the 2 and 3 September. We hope to see you there.