In art, the only battles should be on the canvas itself between the different materials used. My art creates conflicts between solvents mixed with enamels, alkyds, different bases and an assortment of acrylics – the opportunities for combination and therefore competition is endless. The question is always in my mind: who is going to succeed in this particular piece?
Take the conflict between acrylic-based paint over oil-based paint, for example. The acrylic will cut through the oil-based paint, leaving colourful lines of triumph in its wake. Or, enamel over an oil-based paint will result in the enamel drying and hardening, fracturing the oil base. The conflicts between colours and textures are simply mesmerising, and this experimentation leads to unpredictable visual delights.
When creating art out of layers I always consider the synergy of the materials and the colours that I’m using, in order to make sure that every component comes together to create the image exactly as I want it to be. However, my work is not there to be dissected. The artwork is the composition of the layers; they work in harmony with each other, and shouldn’t be broken down. That being said, I do think special attention should always be paid to the last layer, as it’s always the most dynamic and playful layer of the piece. Overall, the layers of my work combine to become an expression of me.
Being creative has great rewards, and one of these is the emotional experiences it generates. For example, in my work I use masking tape to frame the piece as I build up the layers. That moment when I peel off the tape to reveal my creation is so personal, so private and so moving. It’s the first time that piece of art ever gets viewed, and it’s a privilege to be that first viewer.
The second great emotional experience is when you show it to someone else for the very first time. I always watch their eyes – they’re far more revealing than whatever words are spoken afterwards. When you see their eyes you see what they see, you see the delight in their pupils as they smile at the piece you worked so hard on.
I don’t recognise achievement and wealth as an artist in terms of commercial success. To me, being a rich artist means being able to see other people appreciating your art and finding joy in it. For example, if I were to walk down the street and see a Stiffy in someone’s living room – that would make me feel rich.
Art is a journey for me. It may not end in success (although, I doubt it will not), but at least it’ll end in a laugh and it’ll be a journey that I’ve enjoyed.
If you don’t like my art, and you don’t like me, then all I would say is that you just aren’t ready for me yet – but one day you will be. One day you’ll see me and recognise me as Stiffy, the boyish and mischievous artist who has finally succeeded.