Every time I set myself up to paint a live performance I am hit by last minute nerves. I cover the floor in plastic sheeting, lay out my paints and brushes, clip the battery lights to my easel, and then, as I wait for the night to begin, I want to run away. I never know if I'll be able to do anything, let alone do it well. And it's all so darned public.
After the first effort, which often misfires, I usually forget to worry and just get on with it. I have to work quickly to get the basic shapes and movement, but the time seems to pass really slowly. I find myself watching things appear on the paper or canvas. I am drawing with paint. I try to capture the essence of whatever catches my attention and work on it until something else comes up, which is when I start another. The faster I work the less I think and censor what is happening. In some ways it's much easier than working slowly with a static scene, when there's too much time to second-guess and 'fix' the picture.
I am often asked how long paintings take, as if the length of time is a reflection on its value or quality. I can only say that each one takes me all my life. I have studied nude models in life classes, sketching people and making studies for years to be able to do what I do. Not many artists would even attempt this way of working. I often ask myself why I find it so fascinating!
After the event I just want to pack up and go home and let the paintings dry. I haven't really seen the pictures as I paint them; there is no time to focus on them individually. Next morning they always surprise me. Colours are distorted by the artificial lights, and also by my limited palette.
I just sit and look at them for a while, until I see what they need. I sort them into three piles; one to throw away, one to work on a little and one that needs a lot of adjusting. Some get overworked or just messed up while I'm working on them. Some just sing right from the start.
All I know is that I like to work with figures in motion, usually dancers and jazz musicians. The paintings seem to come from a deep and connected place that I cannot access in any other way.
To see the rest of the collection 'Quintessence by Renzo Spiteri" please click HERE
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Caroline and I are co-tutoring a fab painting holiday in Sicily this May - it's going to be such FUN!!
To see the whole programme click HERE and then book soon!!
He told me to go and find an artist that I admired and copy their style until I found one of my own.
I was quite outraged! Here I was trying really hard to reproduce what I saw and he was telling me that it was so hopeless I should copy someone else? I missed his point at the time, of course.
I had chosen to study Illustration at Harrow because at the time Fine Arts courses in the UK had ceased to teach techniques in favour of self-expression and experimentation. I loved the first two years of pure drawing, but when it came to creating full page spreads and doing as I was told, I retreated back to the first year’s drawing sessions. I would hide in the photography dark rooms rather than bother with the typography press. I made a train necklace out of tiny etching plates instead of making prints. Oh dear, poor Mr Bartlett. He was trying to help me make a living of course; I needed to compete with hundreds of other equally talented people in the cut throat advertising world. I left college and failed miserably. Or happily, whichever way you look at it. I still don’t do as I’m told.
I now understand what he meant, but I still don’t agree.
I really think that ‘style’ just creeps up on you though. It is born of confidence in your technique and materials. Of practice and experience and just plain hours of slog. And mainly of many, many failures. It comes when you stop worrying about the end result and just get on and have another bash. It develops over time and you don’t even notice it until someone says ‘oh I knew that was one of yours’ and you notice that you’ve actually found your own voice quite by accident.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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