Q & A with Paul Senyol

Q & A with Paul Senyol



1. You’ve started to explore a very interesting and exciting new direction, what are the main inspirations for this body of work?

Having spent some time looking at recent as well as older works, I have been working on refining a few aspects of the painting process, as well as being a bit more freehanded in regards to others. For me, my work and practice follow after each other, in that a body of work created for a certain exhibition or project is usually influenced by the previous body of work, and likewise the works that follow from there are then in turn influenced by a current body of work. I am constantly distilling, refining and re-invisioning my works.

2. Are there any specific tools you use that you cannot live without?

I will paint on almost any surface, so those aside, be they paper, wood, canvas, and so forth. I would say that a small selection of acrylic paints, pencils and pastels can go a long way. I always try to pack a small box of essentials when we go away for a holiday, just in case the inspiration strikes to work on something. This box would contain pencils, erasers, sharpener, cutting knife, small brush and along with that, some tracing paper. Having a small set of watercolors is always nice.

3. How would you describe your creative process?

My work finds its inspiration in observation, and mental recording. I like to spend time leafing through old books at the library, or around our home. Usually, this involves some bookmarks and a pencil and a bit of tracing paper to jot down ideas for compositions and colors. This then is combined by taking notes while outdoors in the urban and natural environments. I like the crossover and the margins between the two, the intersections, and the subtle nuances that are often overlooked. My work is hopefully an expression of what I see and admire. Then working with paints and varying mediums finds an expression onto canvas, paper or board.

4. As a self-taught artist, what are the merits of self-learning versus formal training?

I would say the benefits of being self-taught is that you are free from the constraints and traditions of how and why art is made. I remember choosing not to study art after school as a way to preserve its ‘purity’ in my eyes. I know that sounds bizarre, but I suppose as a young person trying to find meaning in life and finding much of my expression through painting and being creative, the last thing I wanted was for someone to tell me how it should be done, and then whether it was any good or not. To some degree I still feel this way. I don’t make art for people, although I do realise people may like my work very much, the reason for making work is for myself, and I don’t try to please others too much, I do what I do, and on my terms. I have found for myself, that critique is good for me and my work, but if as an artist I pay too much attention to what others say, then I get stuck in a difficult place of trying to please them, and then I end up not liking my own work. I first and foremost want to enjoy my own work and feel that I have made something beautiful and worthwhile, and if others like it, then that is great too.

5. In many of your paintings your composition seems to be formed through colour and mark making, is this spatial arrangement planned beforehand or does it happen organically? How did you come up with your system?

I always have a composition sketch which is the starting point for the artwork. Basically a rough drawing on trace paper of all the major compositional elements within the artwork. From there I trace the drawing onto the canvas, and start to visualize paint and colour as I go, chopping and changing as the painting progresses. After starting on the piece, the artwork starts to take on a new life as some parts from the sketch may or may not work, and the mark making and brushstrokes becomes more intuitive. I first started working this way while on residency in Finland at the Proartibus Residency project in 2011. It helps formalise the vision for each piece, as well as the general direction of colour and mood. Recently I have been forcing myself to leave areas of the canvas with bare primer and pencil marks instead of colouring and working over them. I quite like that this gives a sense of the life of the artwork beneath the colours.

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