© Tom Davis
paintings? Has your artwork ever been a drawing that doesn’t evolve into a painting?
TD: Yes every painting begins as a drawing. I often redraw the same image or figure several times before drawing it bigger to paint; which is essentially filling in the gaps with colours. Drawing women and plants over and over again builds a ‘visual language’ and it’s the same when painting the colours. Developing my technique and ‘language’ are more important than finishing paintings, I often abandon projects too early and many designs never leave my sketchbooks.
MF: Are your subjects drawn from life or photographs? Do you consider a difference when it comes to artwork?
TD: Yes i think for me there’s a big difference but it’s good not to stick to just one.. Sometimes I’ll see a photograph and I can see how I can use the composition and shapes to make a painting. But drawing from a real thing is wild, your eyes are moving all the time and you have to turn something 3 dimensional into a flat thing. Everyone does it completely differently but I think the result tends to be more expressive to me this way. From life however, drawings of other people’s paintings are usually starting points for me.
MF: Your paintings have a sense of depth but are pleasantly complicated with overlapping patterns and motifs. How to you begin a painting and what is the process?
TD: When I start I usually have a drawing/picture selected that i’d like to recreate as a painting. I’ll draw it using smaller sketches as references, sometimes using a large stick with graphite taped to the end so I can see the whole thing the further away I draw. Using the big stick is cool too because it can distort or transform the drawing as it is so difficult to control and be neat. When i’m pleased with the lines i’ll add colours quite instinctively. I tend to think about blue, and I try to seek out relationships between colours. For a long time I’d avoid brown, being my least favourite colour to look at; until I painted it next to another blue or green and realised I really liked how they looked together. My favourite colour at the moment is Prussian blue; which seems to dominate my pictures.
Most of my paintings are unfinished and I tend to move on to something else when I become too bored or frustrated – I go back to some canvases but have little success. There’s something I really like about not finishing anything.. however maybe i’d sell more otherwise? Instead of slaving away on an unfinished piece I prefer to restart, execute the same design again taking parts from the first attempt, making new discoveries along the way. Finishing is not important, I’m way more interested in developing drawings and compositions rather than saying “this is done, its perfect, theres nothing else i can add” – i don’t remember ever feeling like that about anything.
MF: Do you class your paintings as decorative? What influences the patterns in your work?
© Tom Davis
© Tom Davis
© Tom Davis
TD: Decoration, beauty and aesthetics interest me far more than artworks that have no drawing involved/ or that heavily relies on non-visual information . I’m particularly interested in creating work that seems absurd/unusual or psychedelic, and patterns sometimes play a role in creating an effect like this. Digital imagery and computer graphics are good sources to draw from however, I don’t feel i’ll ever channel such accuracy into physical paintings.. More realistic are from nature, like the patterns of plants and in the ripples of water.
MF: What inspires your practice?
TD: Light and shadows, and the variety of ways other artists have interpreted colour, vision and perception.
Places, memories of being a child, relationships, dreams, films, photography, people, hallucinations, computer graphics, plants, sculpture.. People say very specific things about their inspiration but personally it’s mainly about other things I’ve seen that i’m trying to replicate. Except i’m not replicating it exactly, I’m drawing and doing things that you cannot do with a camera or Photoshop.
I’m a very visual person, I spend a lot of my time looking at things and absorbing information through pictures. I’m fascinated by the artistic decisions made by other people, when others interpret the same information but result in something totally unique. Mostly i’m inspired by drawing and the work of other artists whom I love. Cezanne has become very important to me recently. I found a book called Kitaj in the era of Cezanne and other masters. The way Kitaj appropriates Cezanne’s bathers is fantastic. It’s made me think about how humans have continuously looked to the past and appropriated, recycled and developed on what the previous generation had accomplished. I saw the bather paintings and thought wow, but when I saw what kitaj has done with them I became obsessed, as did he. I think of how Picasso, Matisse and other great painters might of made decisions based on Cezanne’s visual ‘research’ and i’m eager to use theirs and take things and steal things… Like its being going on forever and will continue to do so, each artist building on what has already been done in a similar way to how a scientist adds to what already exists.
MF: Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions?
TD: Some of my work will be featured in the bonus round of Guardie 3, which u can learn more about here.
Interview by Mel Fletcher
Text by Mel Fletcher 2014
Article commissioned by Seed Creative Network 2014
Images and video © Tom Davis
A time lapse of Tom Davis painting © Tom Davis
Tom Davis is a painter recently graduated from De Montfort University, UK and now residing in an old factory studio in Walsall. His artwork is a fresh and contemporary take on our worlds most influential Modern painters. Tom’s paintings are both beautifully decorative and instinctual in his brush expressions.
Seed Creative Network’s Mel Fletcher interviewed Tom Davis to ask more about the subjects of his work and his influences.
Words by Mel Fletcher
MF: You largely use subjects of women and plants in your work. What is it that draws you to these?
TD: I believe the female figure has got to be one of the most visually interesting things to paint. I’m fascinated by how other artists have used the reclining nude and vases of flowers etc. to experiment and create abstract/psychedelic versions of reality. I redraw designs using women and plants as subject matter, using tools to make the picture allows me to experiment visually in an arena or context that has existed throughout art history. I began painting figuratively after developing an interest in Matisse, many of his pictures to me seem void of negativity and celebrate life and our vision/perception. The process of redrawing designs, as matisse did, has become very important for me and I am particularly drawn to how the human figure can be abstracted & stylised in the composition of a picture and how reality can be rearranged or transformed into 2D planes. The human body and nature have always been depicted in artwork – I believe these are themes that everyone can relate to.
MF: I notice drawings on your Seed Creative Network profile. Do you draw a sketch as a plan to your