Figurative artist Mark Spain works predominantly in oils to create his traditional paintings of ladies in recline.
History and Background
I have always been interested in art right from an early age. After having attended Art College, I decided I favoured printmaking and opened up a print making studio in Kent where I spent many years developing my etching and collagraph techniques.
After the storm of October 1997 I was commissioned to produce a limited edition etching of Kew Gardens. Other commissions have included ones for Natwest Bank and The Dorchester Hotel.
My art began with a love of landscape images and had many etching editions published by CCA Galleries of London. These were successful and spanned many years. However, as time went on I felt the need to develop other forms of imagery from abstract to figurative. I am constantly experimenting with different subjects and techniques, which I then apply to a variety of images. Although this is new to me I have thoroughly enjoyed and embraced the new challenge.
My collagraphs have been exhibited at Mall Galleries, and my abstract oils at the 20th Century British Art Fair as well as other works being shown at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Show and the Barbican Contemporary Print Fair. More recently, my figurative works have been published by Washington Green.
Ideas and Inspirations
My ideas can come from many sources, but are more often than not prompted by music. The majority of ideas develop when I’m working on another painting or in the evening when I’m relaxing. When this happens I do a small thumbnail size sketch so that I don’t forget it. Then at a later date I work the sketches up, until I can visualise it as a painting, with the use of models and props.
I believe that the mood and feeling within the painting are as important as the composition. This is an area that I enjoy exploring - it’s such an exciting challenge to try and capture a moment (good music at this point always helps).
From Palette to Picture
Once I have a clear idea of an image, I will often develop a colour rough to try to help create the right feeling.
If I am working in oils, I will paint a basic background colour that is predominant within the image and then begin to work forward. Once the basic picture is painted, I will continue to work the colours of the subject and background until I’m happy with the general mood and feeling within the image.
I always like to create a little energy with the brush strokes, to help give the finished painting some life. Once finished I often place the picture out of sight for a few days and then re-visit it later with fresh eyes to see how I feel about it, and whether I can improve it in any way.
When painting abstracts, my approach is somewhat more spontaneous. I don’t usually have any preconceived ideas, and I just allow the image to happen. Colour choice depends on my mood and I usually work on several images at once. I will continue to work on them over a period of several months, sometimes painting major changes to the image many times, until I’m satisfied with the end result.
A day in the Life of…
My typical day for me would depend on whether I’m print-making or painting.
When printing, the day normally begins at about 8.00am with the preparation of inks and paper. If all goes well I will hopefully have my first print pulled off the press at about 9-9.30am. Once I am set up and the prints are coming off the press, I either print part of an edition or continue colour proofing new images for the rest of the day until about 5.30pm.
If I’m painting my working day is somewhat less demanding physically, but can mean a much longer day. I may start the day off with a light workout at the local gym, followed by breakfast at about 9.00am. I begin painting fairly slowly with plenty of tea breaks and music in the background until hopefully I settle into an image and it seems to flow. If its going well, I will continue with it until I feel I need a break, otherwise I usually stop for lunch at about 1.30pm and then carry on working until about 6.30pm when family matters take over. With two young children I try as much as possible to make sure I spend some quality time with them each day. I may return to work about 9.00pm, once the children are in bed, and if I’m feeling particularly keen and inspired I have no fixed finishing time before calling it a day.