John O’Connor is a visual artists based in Leeds and the ninth artist to take part in our Canvas project for our Leeds store. We caught up with him via email to find out about the art he creates.
Tell us about what you have created for our canvas project?
I painted a view from the Fred Aldous shop window – Kirkgate, the oldest street in Leeds. The ‘hidden’ side of the local urban landscape is an ongoing theme in my self-directed artwork.
Which materials did you use and why?
I’ve used acrylic paints, they’re quick drying, water-based (easy to clean) and low odour. It’s the first time I’ve used Daler Rowney’s ‘Graduate’ range – they’re reasonably priced, the colours are strong and coverage/opacity seems pretty good.
Where do you make most of your work?
At home – which has its pros and cons. The work/life balance can often be difficult when my son is around, space is tight and I have to avoid making a mess. I don’t need walk far to the easel/Mac, but artwork’s ever-present and niggles to be finished!
What are your favourite creative tools?
6B – 8B Pencils (Faber Castell and Staedtler are good), graphite sticks, Daler Rowney Fine Grain Heavyweight (200gsm) paper, a note pad, old envelopes and my Apple Mac G5 (…there’s life in the old dog yet!).
Who are your biggest creative influences?
Those who avoid specialism and work across creative boundaries, using a variety of media. Leonardo da Vinci, Francis Bacon, Saul Bass, Peter Blake, David Hockney, David Oxtoby, Reid Miles,
Dan Fern and Russell Mills. Pushpin, Tomato, Pop Art, Blue Note and the Polish Poster tradition.
If you could only use one material in your work, what would it be and why?
A pencil. It’s simple, effective and will always be an incredibly powerful, creative tool. Never underestimate and handle with care!
What was the best exhibition or art event you went to last year?
As a personal achievement, it would have to be Untitled #03 at East Street Arts Patrick Studios, in Leeds. It was the very first time I’ve exhibited in a gallery space and recognised the long, creative journey I’ve taken to get there.
If you had a tip for artists starting out, what would it be?
Observe and absorb, take in all that’s around you – inspiration is EVERYWHERE. Question everything and throw any preconceptions you have out the window. Experiment, PLAY, laugh at yourself occasionally and have fun. There’s no guarantee of earning a penny from being creative (…or anything else for that matter), so make sure you enjoy the ride.
You can see more of Johns work on these links: