Answers to Art Questionaire from Joe Brown, 6th Form A Level Student

When did you realize you wanted to become an Artist?
I always enjoyed drawing and painting from the age of 5 at infant’s school.Who/What inspired you to become an Artist?
Nothing “inspired” me to become an artist, I just followed my interests which were looking at things, drawing, painting, exploring the woods, countryside, canals and industrial areas where I lived on the edge of the Black Country and distance cycling which I started in earnest when I was 13 years old.

Did you study a degree or at an Art College?
Yes. I went to Stourbridge Secondary Art School at the age of 13 and then to Stourbridge College of Art from 16 to 20.

Who/What are your artistic influences? (E.g. Groups, Movements, Artists)
First and foremost, Rembrandt. Then Turner, the Dutch Baroque (Ruisdael etc) the Barbizon Painters, The Impressionists, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Oscar Kokoshka. Do you need more? I have also been indirectly influenced by the positivism and creativity of great engineers such as James Watt and Isombard Kingdom Brunel. My passionate involvement with motorbikes has involved learning engineering and practical skills which have helped me in fabrication the wide range of specialized equipment which I use. I consider these practical skills just as important a part of my working method as the priming of boards or skill with a paintbrush.

Your work is very individual, how did you “decide” or find your individual style?
I don’t like the word “style” which tends to describe something that you adopt for fashion or commercial reasons. Style tends to be something superficial that you consciously “put on” “to be different” (but is actually, in most cases, a type of conformity) I prefer the word “approach”. I use a number of approaches but they are not affectations, they are simply differing means of tackling a particular line of enquiry, ways of learning something new or in greater depth about your subject matter. I try differing approaches and techniques in exactly the same way as a good engineer would try a number of alternative solutions to a particular design problem. All my “approaches” and improvised techniques are in direct response to my subject matter.

Taking “Sierra Guadarama with approaching Snowstorm” as an example what is the process of creating the piece?
I rarely produce a single piece in isolation. Sierra Guaderama was one of a series of studies in differing sizes which I made during a month-long trip to Spain. I work in series in order to gain a deeper understanding of the particular environment in which I am working. You could call my field-trips “visual explorations of the environment through the media of drawing, painting and direct physical contact” To create each piece I simply set up my easel, focus my attention absolutely on what is in front of me and try to interpret, translate or record what I see in terms of paint or drawing media

How do you decide on locations for your work?
I just travel as much as possible and keep my eyes open, always on the alert for possible future subject-matter. I listen to other people. Sometimes I seek out sites of historical significance.

(Relating to the “Remembering the Somme” Exhibition), why did you choose to take on the project?
Although I am not a total pacifist, my work in the Battlefields is based on my abhorrence of war and the suffering it brings to innocent people. I am a committed socialist. Socialism is a philosophy which means caring for your fellow human beings and trying not to be self-centred and avaricious, in other words, the strong caring for the weak, not exploiting or oppressing them. I believe that humanity’s best hope for survival lies in our capacity for co-operation not competition! I believe in human rights BUT ALSO HUMAN OBLIGATIONS which sometimes entail curtailing those rights. I am a member of Amnesty International (which you should also join), and have worked also at places like Auschwitz and Oradour sur Glane (look it up on the net) I consider myself to be a landscape painter pure and simple, but with a strong social conscience.

And finally what do you think you would be if you weren’t an artist?
A seaman in the Merchant Navy, a long distance lorry driver, an engineer or a geologist/palaentologist.