Tell us about your background and how you got into painting?
My family has always had a huge appreciation for the arts, and there are works in watercolour and oils by my father and grandfather (especially) in the house, still. They were both doctors, but there’s this thread of visual creativity running through, too.
As a child I was very comfortable with drawing and painting. I think that I live in the sensual world probably more than most people – I have a condition called synaesthesia where the senses are blended and experienced simultaneously (sounds, for example, bring about the sensation of colours) and didn’t realise until I was at least ten that others don’t necessarily associate people they know with certain colours, for example. So, to complete degrees in art and music was very natural.
Can you share a little about your painting process and technique?
I photograph landscapes in East Anglia a lot, and these form the basis for my works. Initially I have an idea for a composition, and start by layering paint, letting it dry between layers, usually keeping the colours very ‘clean’, but at a certain point I pay less attention to the starting point and let the painting tell me what it needs. This is often done without thinking too much about it, but responding to what’s going on. In this way, I don’t feel that I finish paintings as much as resolve – or balance – them.
What draws you to your chosen subject?
The landscape in East Anglia has terrific skies, colours, patterns – this is perhaps obvious – but for me in addition it’s the music that I experience with it – and I can’t quite explain that. The rhythms? The pulses? The cycles? Something like that. It’s an agricultural area, and a county that’s very much connected to its physical attributes. And then there’s the sea – something to which I am very drawn.
What influences your painting?
Anything can influence my painting from an unexpected colour juxtaposition, food, an experience, a feeling. What principally drives me is the sheer thrill of bringing colour and vitality into people’s homes and interior spaces. Giving pleasure in terms of something inspiring and energising to look at cannot be underestimated. Colour is my thing – my super sense.
What inspires you in the art world? Are there any artists you admire?
Phew – goodness – this is a hard question. I suspect that my work follows a tradition of Modernist painters such as Mattise, Van Gogh, Klee, Gilman (a distant relative), Diebenkorn, Nash and Ravillious. Contemporary – perhaps lesser well-known – artists who get my heart racing recently have included Jacob Littlejohn, Jenny Fermor, Anthony Connolly (RP), Chloe Lamb, and Hormazd Narielwalla – look them up! It’ll be worth it, I promise.
My Life In Art – Claire Oxley
First piece of art you bought
I can’t remember what piece I first bought, but the painting that I’ve had for most of my adult life (and has taken some care and attention to look after) is a 1937 portrait by Irene Boyle of a Chinese Lady, which was given to my grandfather in the fifties – the label for the 1952 RA Summer Exhibition is still attached to the hanging string. It has informed the entire décor of my home, I love it so much.
If you could own any piece of art (even if you have to rob a bank or museum!) what would it be and why?
Possibly some Van Gogh cherry blossom, or a Vermeer interior. But I’m going to go large, here, because this is fantasy – and I’m going to make off with the entire Procession of the Magi fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli from the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence.