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Interview with Paul James.

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PaulJames     by paul james design

I was recently interviewed for a featured article.  Here is my un-edited answers.

Tell us an interesting story that occurred during art-making.

There was this time when I was completely drunk…
To be honest,  the most interesting that happens is that moment when you realize  that what you doing is actually working, when everything starts coming together.  Then you get completely absorbed and forget about time passing,  eating,  drinking and other essential bodily functions. I very often turned up late to a dinner appointments, late, covered in paint, light headed having not eaten the whole day.
I very often turned up late to a dinner appointments, late, covered in paint, light headed having not eaten the whole day.
I’m reasonable organized when painting so I do not normally have funny anecdotes about  how i slipped on splurge of oil paint on the floor,  and fell on the painting I was working on,  left a body shaped impression on the canvas.
But some of the most interesting techniques come about when you really fucked something up. It common practice to use large sheets of paper pressed against the canvas to remove the excess/unwanted oil paint – if you do it carefully, the pattern left on the paper can be much more interesting and becomes something to ponder.  Washing wet  acrylic paint off a canvas in my shower when things went horribly wrong, led to a technique that I used in a controlled way for the “Metamorphosis” series of paintings.
I went though a stage of painting on unprimed canvas with acrylic paint. The paint seeps through the canvas. I was using a new shower curtain underneath the canvas, to protect my floor. After the abstract had dried,  the canvas and shower curtain had stuck together. I peeled them apart, the pattern from the shower curtain had adhered  to the back of the canvas. I took one look and decided the back was nicer than the front,  so reversed it and varnished over it.   That happened more that once during that period, I was unrolling a canvas  in front of  customer who had commissioned, he loved it !  But I had rolled/unrolled the wrong way around, he was looking at the back of the painting.

Share an experience that helped to shape your perspective as an artist.

I think the most lasting experience is growing up an the only child in a small family. From young i was left alone to daydream, play, experiment and discover things for myself.
For a while i had an imaginary friend, called James, he was just an extension on the imaginary space I was living in.
Creating artwork, and in particular painting is portal back to that imaginary space.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

For me, inspiration comes from asking a question, “how can I express …. ? ”  or “how can I use this medium in different way ?”. Inspiration can simply come from experimentation.
My abstract works are generally an expression of my thoughts and feelings, they capture my mood at that instance. Some abstracts take a while to finish, because I have to revisit the same mood in order to complete them.
But sometimes its just about having fun.
Some of my other more surreal works are a gentle poke at social situations that I have experienced.

How do you keep up with what’s happening in the art community today?

To be honest,I do not really keep up, theres so much going on and so little time. I attend the occasional exhibition opening. Social media provides the most biased, and lazy way to find out whats happening – thats where I get to find out what my artists friends are up to !

Words of wisdom, or a favourite quote you live by?

“Watching paint dry isn’t always boring, at least you have something nice to look at.”
When asked by a Time Magazine reporter, “Mr.Pollock, how do you know when you painting is finished ?”, Jackson Pollock replied “How do you know when you have finished making love ? ”

What are you currently reading, watching, listening to or looking at that inspires and fuels your love for art?

The new Radiohead album has this mood running through it, that I find very contemplative. Contemplation is good for practice of art.
Very often I’ll play “Music for 18 musicians” by Steve Reich or  the sound track to film “Koyaanisqatsi” by Phillip Glass while I am painting. They serve the purpose of taking me on a journey and to provide a rhythm against which to paint.
I watch very little TV, but I am more inspired by movies by Stanley Kubrick or Paolo Sorrentino. They have a fantastic sense of composition, lighting,  symmetry, and color.
The artists I always return to are Dali, Magritte, Hopper, Rothko and Pollock. They had their own question that they were trying to answer.
Calvin Pang is a local artist that I can communicate with and share ideas. He has recently publish a book of words,  which contain the most contemplative works I have read in a while.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

With the abstract works it is primarily a mood I am communicating,  and I want the viewer to share the mood, or find his own space or meaning in it.
The interesting thing, I find by talking my audience, is that they see figures or shapes in the paintings I never saw, or they relate to the painting in  their own personal way based on their own experience  and story, which is really all I want.  If it moves someone,  then I am happy.
With the figurative or surreal works they generally have a strong concept thats usually  very personal to my experiences, but again the viewer

What’s the best advice you can give on how to be more creative?

To daydream to sit in a quiet place and chill. To reflect on your own experiences, and listen to others experiences and stories. To experiment and not be afraid of messing it up, you can always paint over that canvas again.

What is your dream project if you could have any resource that you need?

Look at all the great artworks that have been done with very simply materials. I’m not really sure that having all the physical resources in the world help in making great art. I think time and space do. I would really like to work on some very large abstracts.
I really would want to develop a brainwave translator. You know that internal voice in your head ?  Something that records all your thoughts, dreams and images in your head, and produces a nicely formatted blog post complete with images everyday. Thats a bit far fetched, so I would settle on device to produce artworks based on your brainwaves – that would be cool.

 What is in store next? Any plans for the remaining of 2016 and possibly 2017?

Making a brainwave translator and painting some really large abstracts,  and reconnecting with my imaginary childhood friend James, maybe he’s a better painter than me now.

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