Please introduce yourself
My name is Ben and I currently teach A Level Fine Art in an FE College in South Wales. I have a Degree and MFA in Fine Art so in that regard I've not been too radical in my career choice. I am currently trying to balance my teaching, a young family and continuing to have a creative practice. This means working small and that my sketchbook has taken on an even greater role than previously.
Tell us about your work
I have an eclectic taste but certain themes/processes resurface. These include the figure, faces, continuous line, drawing people who are unaware e.g in cafes or on trains, sewing and embroidery, painting, collage, ink washes, obsessing over my sketchbook, childhood, overlapping and layering and playing with flatness.
What creative project are you currently working on?
Currently I am trying to improve my printmaking skills having only flirted with it in the past. I have producing a series of Twin Peaks inspired images and this has become a small edition of prints which is a new departure for me. This is also an attempt to see if I am able to produce more illustrative work alongside my more observational/figurative/semi-autobiographical work. I am also considering setting up an online shop; but in this regard I am rather lazy.
How does your creative process work?
I predominantly want the opportunity to be looking at someone in front of me; figures and faces are my main inspiration. I find all people have something I want to capture; the clothes they wear, the postures they hold and I see these forms as a series of shapes, lines and patterns that can be developed in infinite ways. Drawing is key for me, I don't think I can be an effective painter or printmaker unless I keep drawing (practice makes 'better' in my case) . I also believe that Art should be playful and that through play we continue to learn - I tell this to all of my students. I start almost all of my drawings using continuous line and cannot recommend that way of drawing enough. So my process is a mixture of play and exploration but at the same time trying to pin something I've seen down.
What tools or materials could you not live without?
A sketchbook with nice paper (currently it's all about Fabriano), a pencil case filled with; pens, markers, brushes, my embroidery kit, watercolours, material swatches and matt Modge Podge glue - love that stuff!
Where do you search for creative inspiration?
Gallery trips when I can, a bit of Facebook or Pinterest. I have realised and accepted more readily this year that my students also inspire me a great deal - being in a studio five days a week teaching means I am constantly exposed to new processes and approaches to visual problem solving. I am passionate about FE and feel that students at this stage start to make some of the 'good stuff'. I am often asking students to show me how they made a certain surface or texture and later unconsciously it will appear in my sketchbook in some way. I also work with some great Lecturers who encourage me and my family are also very inspiring - I have three daughters and I could draw them forever.
What's the best piece of creative advice you have been given?
On my degree my Lecturer was called Jim (I really looked up to him) he said that drawing is actually about looking rather than copying. The more that you look the better your drawings will become, the time you devote to drawing means in turn you become quicker and the connection between your hand and brain becomes almost instant. It was something along those lines, and I have found it to be true.