ARTIST QUESTIONS: ALDO BALDING, ROBERT E. WELLS, GRAEME WILCOX

Published: 3 February 2017


We asked Aldo Balding, Robert E. Wells and Graeme Wilcox some questions about their practice, inspirations and ideas behind the new exhibition.

How did your career as a painter begin?

AB: I was working in London as a commercial artist and painted in my spare time experimenting in oils. In 1999/2000-can't remember exactly-I was a finalist in the BP awards. That gave me the impetus to paint seriously, exhibiting in The Royal Society of Portrat Painters in the follwing years and participating in mixed exhibitions enabled me to switch from commercial art to fine art.

REW: According to my mum at the age of two I stripped the bed clothes from her bed and painted a frieze around each side depicting a steam train, she was so proud of it. I knew I had the codes to be able to paint and so when the chance I was more than ready.

GW: When I went to Glasgow School of Art I was very strong on drawing and ended up in the Printmaking Department. By third and fourth year, I was combining printmaking techniques with painting on canvas. It was only after art school that painting became my main practice. I took on some large scale mural commissions which really made me learn how to paint.

What's the best advice given to you as an artist?

AB: Paint for yourself not to sell. That is the most satisfying ideal. I am only starting to experiment in the last couple of years, which is a fascinating journey of discovery.

REW:The best advice was from a teacher at art college who simply sald stop xxxxxxx about and get on with it.

GW: I can't quite remember who said it but it was advice given regarding drawing. "Look and then keep looking." I take it to mean that you must look at your subject but also keep looking at your work and continue developing and refining it.

Do you have any studio rituals?

AB: I don't have any set way of working, I find routine dull, sometimes I paint a very rough line for composition with a brush. Other times, I start appling tonal values, drawing as I go. Sometimes, thicker paint, sometimes thin. I am trying to paint each time a little differently.

REW: My studio rituals are simple; where is the stuff I can't find, who touched my stuff etc.I have a plastic film on a table next to me and use it as a large easel. When it gets to about an inch thick I change the plastic. Otherwise I tidy up when things get unbearable. My son invades my space to practice he is 15 and an RCM junior, he plays classical guitar and piano and is my equal in unruly mess. So much for rituals!

GW: No studio rituals to speak of.

Who/what are your current inspirations?

AB: When I was working in a commercial studio, John Watkiss, who has, sadly, just passed away, inspired me with drawing and anatomy. I have always looked to other painters, Sargent, Sorolla, Munnings, Stanhope Forbes and Zorn. I am inspired by searching for more individuality in my work .

REW: I have always been a great fan of Amsterdam. I took my wife and two children there last August. I always visit Rembrants house, it is such a privilege to stand at the spot where he worked. The man was so far ahead of his timeif a day ever came when he would fail to inspire me I know that would be a good time to pack my bags and run.

GW: I have always been, and still am, very inspired by documentary/street photography. The idea of the fleeting, frozen moment that reflects something strange or poignant about life is a notion I keep in mind when painting. Portraiture is another source of inspiration for me. I like to see how other artists paint people, what has caught the artist's attention about their subject or what the artist is imposing on the portrait. Great portraits aren't necessarily realistic but they seem to provide an instant connection or feeling of recognition.

How do you choose the subject matter for your work?

AB: I am drawn to people, more than landscape or still life, though I love all forms. So, I tend to settle naturally around relationships, fleeting moments and the human condition - through light, colour and composition. I have a database of ideas in my head from, observing people, photos, films and from my imagination, trying to represent them to my aesthetic ideals.

REW: The subject matter is what ever comes to mind. Some things are fragments of memory, family etc, or just something plain and simple right there in front of me. There is beauty and joy all around us, taking the time to look is key.

GW: My subject matter is almost always other people, how they look and how they behave. I am always looking for new people to paint. I take lots of photographs on the way to work as well as having models in the studio. If I see someone interesting, I will ask them to sit or pose for photographs. I like taking people out of the world around me and placing them in my work. My larger paintings are often based on a situation or scene I have witnessed that has lodged in my memory. I am curious why these moments seem to have such significance or poignancy and I think of the large paintings as almost a restaging or investigation of these memories.

Aldo Balding, Robert E. Wells and Graeme Wilcox runs from 2nd - 18th of February.

View the entire exhibition online here, or visit us at 15 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 9UB.