Having first been featured in the Sheffield edition of Now Then in February 2012, this is the debut Manchester Now Then outing for Andrew Hunt’s oil paintings, aside from recently running his ‘Goat Herder’ piece on the Sound page of our 33rd issue – which featured a Best Of compilation from all previous Now Then art, coinciding with Sheffield’s 100th issue.
Since then, he’s become a Resident Exhibitor at Manchester’s ARTZU Gallery (Old Granada Studios, Quay Street, M3 4PR) and continues to display work across the country, as well as completing commissions for TV. Here he explains further.
How did you start out as an oil painter? It seems like it could be quite an intimidating, unforgiving form.
I started using oils in Sixth Form. I actually preferred them to any other media. I used to blend and mix paint directly on the canvas and found it easier. I am still discovering new ways to use oils paints and I’m always trying different techniques. I am also addicted to the smell – linseed oil and boiled turpentine, the same smell that greeted Rembrant or Picasso when entering their studios, although I very much doubt it was coupled with the fetid smell of four-day-old pot noodle.
What have you been up to since we last featured you?
Lots of painting. I have a gallery in Eton now, showing my stuff at various art fairs, as well as my Manchester and London galleries, who I regularly supply. I’ve worked on multiple commissions, including one which resulted in two weeks in the Caribbean, and I worked on the last series of the BBC drama, Peaky Blinders, painting the characters and consulting on the show.
What’s your working process? How do you put together a new piece?
My stuff is heavily narrative, so it all starts with an idea, a story I want to tell. All my work is figurative, so it starts with a face. I try and develop images that are quirky and unusual, but at the same time strangely familiar. Once I have an idea, or I see something that resonates with me, then I form an image. I’ve started using Photoshop to help piece various references together, then I create a painting from sketches. However, I am not loyal to the references and I like to develop the painting as it goes along. Much like an abstract painter, I never know what a painting is going to look like until that final brush mark.
Give us an idea of the scale of your work and how long it takes you to complete a piece.
I work every day I can and work on a number of pieces at once. My studio is chaos. It roughly takes about a month to paint two to three paintings. I can work very quickly and have to make a living. It would be a luxury to spend weeks and weeks on one painting, but it isn’t financially feasible. As I grow in confidence as a painter, I am finding I can get a lot more out of the time I have.
What are your plans for the near future?
I want to start painting real people. I have started painting larger portraits – ‘big heads’, I like to call them – and I want to develop this with some real heads, but I need the right models. I am particularly interested in painting people from lots of different ethnic backgrounds and older people. I am not after ugly or beautiful, but I will know instantly when I see a person I think will fit the picture.
So I’m putting a call out for anyone who knows someone who would make a good portrait. It could be a child or a granny. If I find the right face then the piece will be painted for exhibition in my London gallery, Cadogan Contemporary, and any person selected will receive a signed print of their portrait.