Paul West speaks about finding courage to paint naïvely, being inspired by the Northumberland countryside and why David Bowie is his guiding light!

by Poppy Rooney

Paul West's beautiful landscapes take you to a place of serenity and calm. Paul spoke exclusively to Artfinder about his love of painting outside in the fresh air and why when depicting the landscape, a naïve style comes to him naturally. Paul is an artist of many trades, discover more about Paul's latest etching project and his love of drawing with charcoal.

Paul really is one to watch, and is currently focusing on being selected for The Other Art Fair and the RA Summer Exhibition 2017.

Read on to find out what Paul had to say...

On becoming an artist

I was fortunate enough to have had a college education where history, cultural studies, life drawing, printing (including dry point, etching, litho, screen printing) and ‘the power of mark making’ were huge aspects of the course. After college, I became a graphic designer. However I always kept and filled sketch books; so when I started devoting more time to art in 2011, it felt like a relatively logical step.

I took me a while to call myself “an artist”. In 2014 I found myself producing work which finally started to reflect what I was feeling inside – before that point I was dissatisfied with my output, so to call myself an ‘artist’ felt a little generous.

For me being an artist means recording a world through your mind's eye, and making a connection with another person who also appreciates that world.

I go through bouts of happiness and frustration when developing new artwork. I've realised that when I'm creating landscapes, I’m striving to record a feeling and to document a moment in time. I wasn’t really aware of that state until earlier this year. I’m not saying that this is what I’m always about, but realisations like these allow me to find some rationale behind my landscape work.

'Tracks, Northumberland' by Paul West, £700

On being an artist

As well as being an artist, I am also the creative partner in a London-based design studio. At the moment, I’m alternating between the two.

Paul, working on a painting in the studio

On painting and charcoal

Over the years I’ve been alternating between charcoal drawing, and painting. When I work in charcoal, I create detailed works - a result of my graphic design background perhaps.

My paintings have a totally different style. I paint using a loose ‘impasto’ style, I like to break the subject of what I’m painting down, using a naïve style. It takes a lot of courage to paint in a naïve style and really make a painting ‘work’.

Highly detailed landscape painting is not a process that comes naturally to me when I paint, and therefore I tend to veer towards a form of abstraction rather than realism. Perhaps I should marry the charcoal vs painted techniques up a little more – but I enjoy the dualism in the styles.

'Silver Birch, North London' by Paul West, £400

On the studio

Paula and I travel around the UK – whether it’s Wales, Dorset, or Northumbria. During these times, I paint prolifically, I prefer working from life in the fresh air or from memory as opposed to working from photographs.

When I’m in London, my studio is what most would call a shed, but it’s my world and I fill it with books, paintings, charcoal, leaves, and my old cassette mix tapes – it’s analogue-only in there!

Paul working away in the countryside
Paul at work in his London studio/shed!

On inspiration

My main inspiration is Northumberland - the huge spaces, incredible skies and cloud formations, created by the North Sea winds as they clash with the Cheviots along the Anglo-Scottish border. I find the rugged, hewn landscape overwhelmingly inspirational.

When I'm there I paint in volume, there’s so much to record. Paula and I keep telling ourselves we’ll move there one day.

'Alnmouth 8am' by Paul West, £700

On other artists

I'm inspired by Richard Diebenkorn, David Hockney, Franz Klein, Kathe Kollwitz, John Hoyland, Patrick Heron, Oskar Kokoshka – the list is very long!

'Reclining Nude #5' by Paul West, £300

On role models

I’ve not really had role models – however Bowie has always been a guiding light, Billy Childish has influenced me massively, in pretty much everything that gets me aesthetically, sonically and sartorially excited.

'Blue Tracks' by Paul West, £575

On life

In a nutshell (and at the risk of sounding trite) – just be happy in what you do. Don’t waste your precious time on this earth being, or doing, what you aren’t.

Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols manager) once said “Frustration is one of the greatest things in art; satisfaction is nothing.”

I’d go so far as to say that dissatisfaction is a positive force for change – it’s important to shake your life up at certain stages and see the view from that landscape. After all... life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

'Towards Wolvesnewton (Dusk)' by Paul West, £875

On Artfinder

I owe a MASSIVE thank you to Artfinder! It’s thanks to your support from the earliest stages that I had the confidence to carry on and develop in the first place. It’s so hard for fledgling artists to find a voice or achieve any recognition without gallery help – and you provide that platform. Artfinder is supportive, friendly and believes in their artists (I know a few of the AF team pretty well and it’s always good to meet up at art fairs and share the love in what we all do). The website is intuitive to upload art, and get yourself to market.

'Woodland, Hampstead' by Paul West, £400

On the future

I had a fantastic time exhibiting at the New Artist Fair in September and The Other Art Fair in October this year, so apart from exhibiting some paintings at a friends space in Brighton this December, I’m done!

I'll now be concentrating on painting and drawing work for ‘Talented Art Fair’ in March 2017. I have already submitting work for next years The Other Art Fair and also, aim to get into the RA Summer Exhibition in 2017. I'd like to develop my ‘Silent Voices’ etching series for the RA, as these sold very well at ‘The Other Art Fair’.

Paul working on an etching
'We always have a choice' by Paul West, £120

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