Has your style or practice changed over the years?
I have always loved drawing and I see painting as an extension of that. I began by painting wildlife, then later progressing to cityscapes, people, and the occasional seascape, though I consider no subject off-limits. My work has become more complex and certainly bigger in scale over the years, and whilst my life may have been easier had I adopted a looser style, I can’t help but get invested in the details. I paint mostly in acrylic now, as I value the speed it gives and have spent many years learning to control it and use it effectively.
Why are you drawn to your particular subject matter?
I find myself drawn to busy subjects and over the years I have become increasingly interested in painting people and crowds. My aim is to create captivating compositions that engage the viewer for longer and provide intriguing visual elements for them to discover in a painting. I have become an expert people-watcher and am always on the lookout for good characters that tell a story.
Who is your favourite artist or artwork?
It’s perhaps no surprise that I am a great admirer of the work of both Lowry and Hopper for their narrative element. However, as my own practice has developed, I have become increasingly interested in realist paintings of the 18th and 19th century, for the complexity of their compositions and skilful application of paint. If I had to pick a favourite artwork, I think it would have to be ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’ by Joseph Wright of Derby, in the National gallery.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an Artist. It was my favourite subject in school and, luckily, I was quite good at it. I always drew for fun and would enter my work in drawing competitions for local newspapers often receiving a huge £10 prize! It was whilst I was doing my A levels that I discovered there was such a thing as an Art College and from then on, I knew that was where I wanted to go. After art college I took a job working as a designer for Ikea and then taught painting for over a decade before deciding to go full time as an artist. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner!
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
The advice I would give to aspiring artists is to dedicate as much time to painting as possible. It is all too easy to get distracted with the other things going in our lives, yet if you are serious about being an artist then you must treat it like a job; if you don’t take yourself seriously, then no one else will.Be inspired by other artists but don’t copy them or try too hard to find a style, you will develop your own identity over time. Finally, don’t be disheartened by the inevitable rejections or trying something that didn’t work, nothing ventured nothing gained. An art career can seem like you are pushing a big concrete ball to start with, but once it starts moving it will gain momentum. Just keep going.
Check out Jo's collection of limited edition prints on our online gallery.