Artist Simon Claridge - All art work available, originals, signed limited edition prints and colleactables. One of my earliest and fondest memories of junior school was running from assembly to be the first in the line before double art on a Tuesday morning, as I could not wait to continue working on what I had done the previous week. This early obsession continued throughout my education, and whenever asked what I wanted to do when I grew up the answer was always 'to be an artist!' I was extremely lucky to have a fantastic art department at college where I really found my strengths in draftsmanship, particularly in life class.
Upon receiving my BA in Fine Art from the University of Reading, I was determined not to stop the journey that I had started, and continued to paint wherever and whenever I could. I was only interested in becoming a painter; I could not, and still can not, imagine a life without having to return to the canvas every day. Thankfully the work that I was producing seemed to resonate with people, and the confidence this gave me lead me to the door of Washington Green, who have allowed me to realize my dreams.
If you were to ask most men to describe their perfect day, I'm sure gazing at beautiful women would take up a fair part of it, only I'm allowed to call it work! The human form is such a fantastic thing to paint; the eye never tires of seeing what it is programmed to respond to on such a guttural level. Exploring the human form provides me a rich seem of inspiration both on a formal visual plain and perhaps more importantly on an innate, visceral level.
I want the work to have an initial raw impact which given time perhaps will inspire memories and fantasies which can become intertwined. It's this line between fantasy and reality which I believe we all walk on from time to time that interests me. My goal is to leave to the viewer some tangible emotional feeling. If the flat areas of colour I create on the canvas surface can be given depth in the imagination of the viewer then I feel it's been successful.
Perhaps surprisingly given the simplicity and graphic nature of my finished works, I hardly ever know what they are going to look like when I start on them. The preparatory work is based in the sketchbook. This is where the formal reduction of the source material starts. It is a trial and error exercise based on experience and gut instinct. On an aesthetic level I want to create a formal relationship of abstract shapes and voids within the predetermined field of the canvas boundary. However this needs to be balanced with the emotive content I want the piece to convey.
This is the most challenging but exciting part of the process for me, as the final composition reveals it's self through the pencil marks. This basic composition is then transferred on to the canvas where invariably more changes are made. Before finally covering the canvas as quickly as possible with acrylic paint to ascertain the colours and tones I want. Once happy with these then the painstaking layers of paint are applied, the processes of building up the layers to achieve the completely flat finish is one that takes great patience, however ultimately brings the most satisfaction as the work starts takes on a life of its own. As I create the sharp lines on the canvas surface it starts to blur the lines between reality and fantasy.
The only problem with doing something you love for a living is knowing when to take a break. I start as early as possible in the morning stopping only for caffeine and Coco, my pug dog. I have no set routine and let the work determine the day. I will stay in the studio as long as I can, wishing there were more hours. However when I feel I'm no longer getting anywhere then a well deserved beer and a few hours with Ruth are all that I need to recharge and look forward to another day.