This is the second part of the interview, here you can read the first one.
Renton: For the creation of the new artworks are you following the creative process used in the past or are you experimenting also new ways to transform your ideas and feelings into paintings?
Dale Grimshaw: I’m still following the same process. I use a mix of source material I photograph myself and images that I find on the Internet. I make “digital sketches” from this material and use them to construct my compositions before I start painting.
R: You have said that art makes you feel better and this is the reason why you paint. You also said -even if today you already told something different- that the fact people understand and approve your art is very important for you… About these two things, which is the most important for you? What does make you feel better, the act of painting or that people appreciate your art? I don’t mean selling artworks or not, but I’m talking about what you feel…
DG: It’s a tricky one. Obviously the act of painting – I love it, I literally love paint, the texture and feel of it. But it’s tricky, because on the one hand you want people to like your work as it makes you feel validated – and hopefully people buy. But on the other hand I’m at that stage that I feel I’ve got to follow my heart as a painter. I think it’s a dilemma for a lot of artists. You know, I’m not 18 any longer, I may have 20-25 years left to paint if I’m lucky. I will always want to paint regardless of whether or not people buy my paintings. It’s only when you get really established that you are in a position to do more of what you want and you can almost guarantee to take your audience with you.
In the new show I’ve tried to stick to creating all the images I wanted to do. For example there is a piece similar to the “Caliban” woodcut print that is huge, really big, uncommercial you might say, in term of the size, but I really really love it, it’s my favourite piece.
It’s a hard balance to get but if your lucky enough to follow you heart and people still buy the work, then you are in a win, win situation.
R: You said that your art is very impulsive, it is born from the need to put what you feel on canvas. Looking at your past works it seems most of them have been painted while angry or sad… do you get the same energy and inspiration also when you feel good?
DG: No! I think it’s all in the movement. Some works are not really as melancholic as they seem on the surface. What I describe as movement is the act of painting physical action. So, in a way some of the movement of the figures, that energy as I call it, is a kind of celebration of human physicality and it’s also about being alive! Artists I admire like Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Freud create a very stationary kind of charcter portrait, but what I’m trying to capture is something more about the vibrancy of life itself. So in a way it’s not an obvious sense of being ‘happy’ but I’m trying to capture the human condition in a very positive way. One thing in my life that made a deep impression on me was losing my mum when I was 19. When I went to see her at the Chapel of Rest something really puzzled me. As she was laid out she still looked very like my mum, but somehow she wasn’t my mum. She just seemed empty. I sat there hoping she would sit up ask for a cup of tea and a cigarette. It was a shock to see that spark of living energy had left her forever. It’s that spark, in all it’s variety of moods, happy or sad, that I’m trying to capture.
R: We are almost on the end. Do you know already how many paintings will be in this show more or less?
DG: I think there’s gonna be 18 paintings and some woodcut prints.
R: Do you feel you are at a good point with your work?
DG: Yes I do. But sometimes some of the strongest works come just before the show. Sometimes the works you do just a few days before the show are the best because you have that adrenaline and pressure. I’m a bit nervous, but I do feel in a good place with my work. I’ve worked on the show for 15 months, so the I’ve put a lot into it. Some artists say “I’ve been working on this show for 3 months” but that’s nothing really. As I put more time and care into the paintings I can feel my technique and confidence growing. Today I’m feeling very good about my work, but tomorrow, who knows. That’s the nature of the beast.
R: The last question is more a personal curiosity. I know in the past music has been a huge part of your life and it still plays a fundamental role in your art as you get inspiration from it while painting. You where involved and attracted by punk-rock, is your personal taste changed with time or punk-rock is still your most inspirational kind of music?
DG: It’s changing; I don’t really listen to a lot of punk of late. I’m listening to drum and bass again. I’ve always loved drum & bass and breakbeats.
It depends anyway: while I’m painting fine details there’s no point to have some kind of mad, fast music in the background, it doesn’t really work!
I’m trying to listen to music that fits with what I’m doing. Music it’s very important because while I’m painting my brain can really wander off and I loose concentration – music can really help me to get my focus back.
A big thanks to Dale Grimshaw and Chris Garlick (Signal Gallery Director and joint owner) and best wishes for the exhibition. For who is in London, the preview of “Semi-Detached” is on the 6th October.