If you pick up Now Then regularly you’ll know that we like to mix it up, so we’ve got something a bit different this month. Phil Lockwood is a local artist working primarily with acrylic paint, producing a range of work including the images from his Industrial and Townscape series presented in this issue.
We like the clear sense of place and time in Phil’s work, as well as the attention to detail in his compositions. If you like what you see, some of Phil’s work is available for sale on his website.
What is your background as an artist?
I have been involved in the visual arts from the age of 11, when, after taking the 11+ examination, I attended the Junior Art Department of the Sheffield College of Art. The annual intake for the school was 12 boys and 12 girls, selected for having a talent for art. This meant that from the age of 11 I was surrounded by people who all had skills in the artistic sphere, so it came as a huge shock to discover later, when I went into the big wide world, that some people couldn’t draw.
How has your style developed and who or what have you drawn inspiration from?
My present style of painting developed some 15 years or so ago and was almost accidental. I had decided to produce a large townscape and I had completed the underpainting using a very limited palette of just three colours, with the intention of overpainting this with the normal range of colour, but I liked it so much in the underpainting colours that I finished it like that.
I was so intrigued by the range of effects that can be obtained by the restricted palette of Pthalmo Blue, Burnt Sienna and White that I produced a series of townscapes exploring and developing the use of this very restricted palette.
Do you tend to work from reference material?
I nearly always work from imagination and memory. I must be a little lazy, as I never use preliminary sketches, preferring to begin painting on a blank canvas with just an idea of the subject. I work in acrylic as this allows me to correct and adjust by overpainting as things develop and change, often making use of what we painters call ‘happy accidents’.
This overpainting continues as we progress towards the finished image. It is ‘we’ rather than ‘I’, because this process means that as I work, the painting takes on a life of its own. One of the results of this method of working is that a painting can often change direction, even to the extent of finishing as a different subject to the idea that started the painting.
Is a sense of humour important to your work?
I see no reason why art has to be po-faced, so I often, though not always, incorporate a humorous element hidden within the composition. This is sometimes a very small motif within the painting and it is usually the subject of the title. I enjoy making the viewer work to find a reason for the title.
I have two other quirks, which the viewers like to discover and seem to enjoy. I have always included Annie, our pet dog, somewhere in the painting, even the industrial scenes. We lost Annie a couple of years ago, but I haven’t the heart to not include her, so she is still there, but now she is joined by Freddie, our present dog.
The other quirk is that I never sign my paintings, but my name appears somewhere in the composition, perhaps on the side of a van, or possibly on a shop front or on a cinema hoarding.
Phil’s work can be seen at Porter Brook Gallery and in situ at his studio during OpenUp (29 & 30 April, 1, 6 & 7 May).