out there, lopsided with subsidence usually at the end of a line of crooked telegraph poles, seem to tell their own story. There’s a kind of subtext or narrative of mystery and intrigue that can be found and this relates well to my love of Edward Hopper’s work and the drama of romantic landscape painting. That said, it is not an easy landscape to paint. Besides being windy and cold most of the year the experience of being in that landscape is easily lost inside a frame, my goal is to overcome that. What is your daily routine: how much of your day do you spend painting and where do you paint? It’s not easy to make a living as an artist but it’s not impossible. I’m an independent artist meaning I have no contract with a publisher or a particular gallery so my time is spent not only making paintings but also designing and producing limited edition prints, and promoting these via social media, my own website and events. I do my own framing and also offer this service to the public and other artists as Fenland Frames (www.fenlandframes. com). Painting is the goal but it’s just one part of what I do. Everything else I do is there to support a lifestyle that allows me to paint as much as possible. The thing I love about working for myself as an artist is that no day is typical. One day I’m working all day on a huge painting in the studio, the next I’m chasing a storm across the Fens taking photographs, another day I’m painting en plein air and another I’m stood in front of lots of people talking about the paintings and the landscape or setting up an exhibition. How do you feel when you are outside in the elements painting in the midst of the Fens countryside? Painting outdoors is really when I feel most free. I don’t worry too much about creating a perfect painting. The act of being out there, enjoying the environment and doing what you love is perfect. It’s a great excuse to be in nature at times when you wouldn’t normally. Some days you wake up and you just know it’s an outdoor painting day, something about the light. I grab my backpack with all my equipment ready to go and head out for the sunrise.
How do you start a painting? I start with a sketch, in loose paint on a panel or canvas. Then I work from large simplified shapes with soft edges towards smaller more detailed elements with harder edges. I also work dark to light. That’s the general idea but every time I start a painting I try something different you have to remember to have a sense of play; I try to experiment. What is you most important artist tool? Is there something you couldn’t live without in your studio? Music, a great sound track really helps. I usually start a painting session in silence whilst I work out where I’m at and where I want to go with the painting. Once I’m in the flow I put on the tunes. I have eclectic tastes so it could be anything from minimalist classical, ambient electronica or traditional indian ragas. How do you know when a work is finished? Rembrandt said, ‘a work of art is complete only when the artist has fully realised their intentions’, I’d be inclined to agree. Do you have a favourite piece, or which piece are you most proud of and why?
I do, I have favourites for different reasons. I decided to keep one small painting called ‘April Sky over Langtoft Fen’. It was one of four cloud studies I painted in one day. Making art sometimes feels like it flows through you and sometimes the flow is nowhere to be found. I feel like that little painting represents a time when the flow was there in abundance. I also love my largest commission to date ‘Rain on Morton Fen’ simply because I think it represents clearly what I’m trying to represent as an artist. But mostly my favourite is always a work in progress, currently it’s the huge sunrise painting sat in my studio. Which art movement or artist do you admire the most or find inspirational? My goals as a painter are most aligned to the romantic era of European landscape painting. This is to represent the landscape’s awe inspiring drama. What advice would you give someone contemplating a career as an artist? Do it! But don’t wait for someone to come and validate your art or offer you a place in a gallery, believe in yourself and present consistent art. Try to create a following and learn how to market yourself. I first started selling work on a market stall, this was a great way to get
The Fens | July 2019
The Fens July issue features an interview with Fenland artist Nick Tearle and we visit Ayscoughfee Hall