What inspired this particular painting? It’s based on images of Bondi Beach in Australia. I found some pictures on the internet a few years ago and later spent time there taking more photographs. An important part of the process is editing and manipulating the source image on a computer before I start ‘making a painting’.
Where did you complete the work? It’s all done in my studio, which is in the garden by my house at Hamsey.
What’s so special about the seaside? This is landscape at its most basic. Basically it’s a chunk of sand or shingle, a stripe of water and a lot of sky. And it’s repopulated from scratch on a daily basis. If you want to think about bodies in space, it’s the most perfect thing to observe.
How do you achieve the impression of detail? Playing with how the image dissolves into abstraction is a central part of what I’m doing. It’s about a bunch of processes that interconnect to produce that kind of seductive illusion.
How long have you been a professional artist? Since I graduated from art school in the late 1970s. I’ve had to do various other things as well in order to survive – for the most part, that involved being a lecturer at colleges and universities – but these days I do very little teaching.
What’s your next project? At the moment I’m working on a bunch of paintings about some snow-dusted fire-ravaged ponderosa pine forested hillsides in northern Arizona that I visited earlier this year. There was an extraordinary starkness; a sort-of pine tree version of the beach paintings.
How does inspiration strike you… and how do you respond? I make research trips every couple of years. But really, paintings develop from other paintings. When I’m searching through America or Australia, I’m actually looking through the filter of my own art. Inspiration comes from going into the studio early every day and painting until something happens.
What piece of someone else’s art would you take to your desert island? A self-portrait in sepia ink by my father. He, like so many other people in my family, was an artist. It’s hanging in our kitchen at the moment.
Nick’s work can be seen at St Anne’s Galleries as part of this year’s Artwave show. stannesgalleries.com
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 95 August 2014.