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  Howie Green Interviews

Interview with Amy Parker
Norton Hill School
Bath, England, UK

Which artist inspires you?

All kinds, depends on what day of the week it is. I regularly make sure I look at the works of Peter Max and Monet and Van Gogh and Andy Warhol and Millard Sheets and Rene Gruau and many others. I am inspired by several of my friends who are not famous but their work always spurs me on to do more work. I'm lucky enough to live in Boston where there are 15-20 paintings by Monet in the museums and lots by John Singer Sarget so I get to see the real things. I have far ranging taste and a lot of artwork turns me on -- all diffrent styles and techniques.

How long have you been interested in art?

Since I was about 12 - I got a pad of multicolored newprint paper as a gift and I started drawing...and I've never stopped. My parents were dead set against me being an artist so I was never allowed to take any art course in school and I had to draw in secret. I was the dorky kid under the covers at night with a flashlight in my mouth drawing comics. If my mother found me drawing she would have a fit and insist I do more homework or mow the lawn or paint the house or some other task. "Art" was considered a waste of time and the fact that they forbid it made it all the more interesting to me. Forbidden fruit is always tastier to a rebellious youth!

How did you find a style of working that suited you?

I'm a great mimic. I can paint just like almost anybody. Like most young artists I learned how to paint by copying others. In the process of doing all those early paintings I found style of art that I liked and felt good about doing. But, in order to come up with my own style I painted for years and years and finally stumbled my way to something that was unique to me.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Good question because today I'm not inspired at all. Usually I just need to paint and the inspiration comes from some spark inside of me... except today. I don't know where it comes from. Sometimes I need to fill orders or have a great idea or something that gets me excited. Then some days I just have to do it because someone is waiting for a painting to be shipped. Having a stack of bill to pay is also a great inspiration.

How long does a painting take you to create?

It depends on the size and complexity. I almost always am working on 4-5 paintings at the same time. That way if one is not going too well I can take a break and work on another one and then go back to the others. In a typical day of painting I can do 8-12 paintings with no problem. If its a mural or something large then that's a whole different story and those can take weeks.

Have you always liked painting in the pop art style?

Yes always. But I learned how to paint very realistically and like an Impressionist and others but the multicolored swirling brushstokes style I usually use is a blast. I love it because I never really know what its going to look like before I get into it.

Do your paintings have a deeper meaning?

No not really. I'm not one to mentally bleed in my paintings. What you see with my work is what you get. I love to hear people talk about my work and read all kinds of meaning into them - it just makes me laugh. I have no idea why people need to do that. Very peculiar.

Is it like a 9-5 job or do you just paint when you feel inspired?

Sometimes its like a job and those are the days when I have to just slog through it and hope that inspiriation hits me - which it usually does. The hardest part of painting is just getting started. So I always have a stack of crap canvases that I can muck about with no concern at all. If I start out making a mess then I've realized my worse fears for the day and I can on with the good stuff.

I love the way you use colour, is there any particular technique you use for applying the colour?

Yes, open up a lot of jars of paint. Take a fairly wide, flat brush and dip it into different colors and then apply it to the canvas. You will make a mess. I can kind of control it because, from years of study and experimenting, I know what happens when you place different colors next to each other. So my style is rather like controlled chaos.

Do the bright contrasting colours that you use, have a deeper meaning? No not really. BUT, I do mess about with what colors do. Having studied classical painting techniques I know for instance that putting intense yellow in the backgroud is going to make your eyes go all plonky because intense yellow is suppose to be in the very near forground. And put orange next to blue and they vibrate, etc etc. I studied the works of Joseph Albers and Monet for color theory and then had the great fortune to study at the feet of Fritz Trautmann just before he died. He really put me straight about color

If you could paint any celebrity, who would you chose and why?

I've pretty much painted everyone I want to and I keep adding to the list. I just realized the other day I have never painted Cher so she's next.

If you were to have a painting done of yourself, who would you chose to paint it and why?

Francis Livingston is the guy I would choose because I love the way he paints.

Do you have any advice/ tips/ quotes for any students like me studying art?

Do it because you love it and you have to do it otherwise you life will not be complete. If that's the way you approach being an artist then you will be fine. If you go into it expecting to make a lot of money and be famous and all that load of rubbish then you will be miserable. We are artists because we have to be... its that simple. People always ask me if I every think of retiring... to do what? I'm doing what I love to do so why would I ever stop?

And... follow your heart and learn to trust your instincts. Both are hard to do when you are young but they are the only things that will properly guide you on your artistic path. If it feels right then do it. If it feels wrong then you are going in the wrong direction. Art is not a struggle. Creating art, though often hard work, should be pure joy. If it is not pure joy then go be a banker or a lawyer.

Being an artist is part of who we are like being tall or blonde or gay or whatever. You can't decide to be an artist anymore than you can decide to be tall. Either you are or you're not. I would be doing what I'm doing for free because I love it and I have to do it. Luckily I get paid to do it, but that took years to work all that out.

Do what you love, the money will follow eventually.

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