Nigel Glaze is a contemporary landscape and portrait artist whose paintings have won awards, and are regularly exhibited throughout the UK. His work is inspired by the simple process of looking and feeling. His work captures both gestures on faces and an emotive reaction to the sense of place. His landscapes are based in and around North Wales and Shropshire. Nigel works primarily in oils with a realistic yet emotively expressive style.
“Painting resonances between the world outside and the world inside"
Nigel trained over 30 years ago in Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, receiving a 1st Class Degree, where he was taught many of the traditional techniques of the old masters. He also qualified as an Art Psychotherapist developing a career in connecting with peoples emotional states. Nigel has spent a lifetime exploring the resonances between the world outside and the world inside. Nigel has run workshops in fine art drawing and painting throughout his career, and is happy to be commissioned for personal portraits.
“Looking past the obvious”
Nigel believes that the simple act of looking and opening up ones senses to the feelings of the experience generates interactions with memories and stories. Nigels’ work tries to capture this sense of looking past the obvious; perhaps inspiring those who see his work to for themselves simply look, and reflect on both the world outside and their inner emotional world.
His work acknowledges that there is a difference between ‘seeing’ and ‘feeling’ and that as emotionally experiencing human beings we see the world, the world out there, through a filter of our life’s inner experiences. His paintings explore the realm of these resonances.
His affinity for the medium of oil paint, with its ability to be worked and reworked and layered tells another story of the process of making art. The process becomes a type of relationship overtime, a learning together, and a metaphor to life’s struggle.
What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?
I’ve always communicated through art. I remember as a young boy sitting on the stairs crayoning on the wallpaper whilst I avoided the rows going on down stairs. Art allowed a form of expression and communication. At school, I would take my sketch book with me on cross country runs whilst other pupils had a crafty fag. Art became part of me, an ability to notice and comment on the world around.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I don’t think in terms of specific movements or genres but I am often drawn to looking at something, noticing aspects of the world around, light, form, colour, spatial relationships etc. Yet at the same time this act of looking allows my mind to wonder and create links with feelings in my inner world and I let this come to the fore. I suppose it could be called a type of expressive realism.
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?
I suppose my work has always been about my inner world but I find it most potent when I am in the process of really looking and noticing something. Somehow, this act allows something else that hasn’t been fully understood by me to also be explored, in a pre-verbal kind of way. An example would be trying to explore an expression on a face or a colour change in the sky.
I hope my work continues to evolve by evoking a sense in people to take a moment to simply look and take in the world outside, pausing and allowing their mind to wonder and explore their inner thoughts.
What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
Often I’m drawn to explore something that is unusual for me. My work straddles ideas about our psychological mind and the world around us. As a psychotherapist I talk with people about their difficulties and these conversations often become processed by me when looking and focusing on the world around me.
In a grand way I think I’m driven to say something about being human, the human condition perhaps? In a less grand way I think I simply experience life’s joys and struggles and paint life around me.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
I’m humbled and privileged to be able to hear very personal accounts of other people’s life stories. This inspires me to communicate through painting.
When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
I like oil painting and charcoal drawing, they both have the capacity to be continuously changed and worked… I’m not shy however, of experimenting and adding a bit of other things, I like mediums that can be worked and reworked over time as well as a varied mark making process, so I tend to have a broad range of tools, including my hands, sponges, brushes and pallet knives. I like the surface of my paintings to be expressive and varied.
When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
Being human, and reacting to the stuff around me, mostly; the emotional stuff that moves me…. People and places.. what’s on and in theirs and my mind including the viewer of the image who I also like to think about.
Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
It’s often at the end of a process that I realize what the process has been about. There’s something preverbal about my exploration, often it’s when completed that it becomes verbal and understood by me. An example was several portraits that individually were exploring states of anguish. I didn’t set out with this in mind but began to discover this as the works were reflected on.
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is it more a case of when the moment is right you work?
I walk my dogs every morning and in this process tend to look at the world around me through an artistic sleepy lens, for example, noticing shadows, how the dark shapes interlock with the other shapes, how compositions may be created in a sea of green trees, textures, lines etc. When I’m more awake, later in the day, I sometimes do the same with faces and gestures, then when I get a moment I try to put some of these observations down on paper or canvas, this then becomes the start of something gathering momentum overtime.
When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?
Both, I tend to walk past my work through the days / weeks noticing and thinking about it, whilst at the same time I start new work or finish off the framing of other works.
How has your art evolved to be where it is today?
Slowly but surely, I feel more relaxed and content with my particular style or way of working
Which of your artworks are you most proud off?
I like the work that resonates with; A) others B) my personal story behind the work and C) being a technically good, competent painting.
Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?
I don’t compare what I do with others but I deeply respect everyone who picks up art and becomes creative. I love to connect with children’s drawing processes and their stories behind their work. I also connect with the senior citizens who say they’ve never been able to paint, and then how they took it up in later life. I suppose I’m humbled and feel privileged when witnessing each individual’s creative spark take place.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
The hardships of the past put me off an artistic life in a bygone era, but I do greatly admire Rembrandt and the Dutch painting schools.
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
Respecting and/or challenging the social/political context of our work. I think when we are trying to make a living as an artist we are embedded in issues that are political, but to what extent this becomes the focus of ones work is individual.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
Make connections with being yourself, being human and communicate something important to you.
Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is their another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?
Abstract expressionism it’s like classical music you can immerse yourself in it and I tend to connect with it, mostly.
We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?
Yes, there can be so many struggles, like life I suppose, but it can be fun and enjoyable at the same time. Endings are just one of my many struggles, beginnings, and middle bits as well.
Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?
I’m not sure about the word responsibility. My work is intended to be coherent with values of humility, respect and reflection of life around me, whilst I play and explore possibilities and learn new techniques as I go on. So I both communicate to others, big and small themes, and reflect and explore personal issues that others may be unaware of.
What are you working on at the moment?
Drawing and paring things back.
Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?
I suppose art school is a form of artistic group which sort of entered me into a painter’s painter club metaphorically speaking.