We occasionally invite guest artists to talk about their work, techniques and materials on the blog. I hope that one artist explaining how they solved a problem or their approach to art will help other artists. I would love to see a community evolve where artists will assist each other with their artistic dilemmas, share ideas and technical information as well as make connections and give each other friendly support.
To join the conversation please add your comment below. It will be great to have some interaction!
Here today to share his art with us is Andy Farr, who paints in Leamington. Thanks Andy!
Jackson’s Art Please tell us a little about yourself.
Andy Farr I am a relative newbie to the world of art. I painted when I was at school, but then followed a very different career path for 25 years, into the world of brand building and marketing. But about three years ago I decided enough of commuting and decided to follow my passion. And, the rest so they say is history. I still live in Leamington but we have turned the office into a small studio.
Jackson’s Art What materials and techniques did you use in making the art work you are showing here?
This piece is based on Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. My goal is to really capture the sense of movement and energy of his play. I tend to work on fairly big canvases in order to free my arm up to “swing” through the painting.
Murray Wimbledon – by Andy Farr – Acrylic on box canvas
One aspect of my style for the movement based pieces is that I like to have the background showing through the athlete. This means that I really only have one chance to get the painting right, without having to go back and re-work all the under-painting.
Murray Wimbledon – detail – by Andy Farr – Acrylic on box canvas
Jackson’s Art What challenges (if any) did you face in making this work and can you give other artists any tips for solving similar problems?
Andy Farr When I’m developing a piece I tend to map out how the image is going to come together on paper, maybe printing out a collage of images of the action from photographs, but it is only when I get it onto canvas that I really get a sense of how the composition is going to work. So for me there is a real danger in over working the preparatory stage. My advice would be don’t get overly anxious about feeling you have everything sorted out before you start, sometimes the process of painting will bring it to life and resolve any compositional issues.
Jackson’s Art Please tell us something about the idea behind the work you are showing here.
Andy Farr This piece was intended to capture both the athletic movement of Andy Murray himself, as well as the symbolic nature of him winning the final. I’m more interested in conveying the power and fluidity of his motion than getting a totally accurate picture of Andy Murray.
Jackson’s Art How does this work relate to your artistic practice, how you approach art over-all?
Andy Farr As I say I only started painting seriously about 3 years ago. I experimented with painting all sorts of subjects and styles – landscapes and abstract geometrics. But in order to give myself a “line in the sand” I actually booked a solo exhibition at a gallery, well before I knew what I would be showing. Fortunately on a trip to Paris I happened upon a beautiful fairground carousel outside the Hotel De Ville. On the train home I started doing some sketches based on the horses.
Carousel horses sketches by Andy Farr
This lead to a series of works inspired firstly by Carousels and then by dance. And my practice became focused on capturing movement.
Carousel – by Andy Farr – acrylic on box canvas
For my second exhibition, Rhythms in motion I combined this focus on movement with an interest in sport, and created a series of pieces inspired by the Olympics of 2012.
Rhythms in Motion – Andy Farr
That exhibition was a real turning point for me as it attracted the attention of a Gallery in Sheffield which started to take a lot of my work.
Jackson’s Art What drives you to make work? (what is your inspiration, what interests you, how do you get started?)
Andy Farr Sometimes I just have an idea for a piece, because a lot of my work is sport based, it could be an event such as Wimbledon or the Ashes. However I think painting can be a bit like being an author, sometimes you just have to go and spend sometime in the studio thinking about ideas, even when you’re not feeling that inspired.
About half of my work is based on commissions, earlier this year I did a painting for one of the paralympian table tennis players. I went up to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to photograph him practicing, and bumped into Jessica Ennis.
Table Tennis – by Andy Farr – acrylic on box canvas
Jackson’s Art Do you have any art advice you would like to share?
Andy Farr When I first started to think about a new life as an artist I was lucky enough to spend time working with an experienced artist Caroline Hulse. The main thing I learned from Caroline was to be brave and experimental. It was this experience that gave me the confidence to become an artist. So my main advice to other artists would be not to get anxious about what you are creating, to be brave, to try things out. I find people can still feel stifled by feeling that have to get it “right”, rather than just experimenting and seeing what happens.
Jackson’s Art What is your favourite art material?
Andy Farr My favourite art material is Cadmium red acrylic paint. I hate white canvas. So I usually start any painting by covering the canvas with a thin layer of bright red paint. This has two effects; firstly I find a red canvas inspiring, and secondly I find it adds richness to the colours that are layered on top.
Jackson’s Art What is coming up next/your plans?
Andy Farr Recently my inspiration has come from a commission, which has started me off in a new direction.
I was asked to create some more elegantly sensual pieces. I felt it was important to stage photographs to work from so I placed an ad on RAM and found some excellent models who helped me to create some beautiful photographs to use for the paintings. Morning was my first foray into this new area. I’m now looking to do more pieces on this theme, and I am hoping to find a way to get exposure for this work around London.
Morning – by Andy Farr
All images are copyright of the artist.