Blog Interview, Artist of the Week
If you want to find out a little more about my art and it's processes, the whys and wherefores. Here are a few questions and answers from a recent interview I took part in for the D31 Art Gallery blog. It is good to be questioned about your reasons, I find it helps to sharpen the focus and to organise your thoughts and communicate them effectively. I hope I have done that.
The link is to the D31 blog page. The interview is also pasted below for you reading pleasure.
Some of the images have been changed to protect the something or other.
Jonathan Oakes is an experienced artist who specialises in painting and drawing. The majority of his artwork is abstract and has been described as having an organic, expressive style with intricate elements.
Describe yourself in 5 sentences:?
1. I am an Artist who has been creating for over thirty years, researching, experimenting and developing my techniques and methods.
2. I enjoy setting myself challenges/ projects and I am happiest when I am creating physically, painting and drawing etc.
3. I have a deep love for music, having spent many years in front of a computer composing and editing original soundtracks as well as playing various instruments.
4. I am serious about my art, but I don’t take myself too seriously, there are many
things to be thankful for and infinite wonders to enjoy.
5. I am very passionate about protecting the natural world and educating others about environmental issues, always trying to encourage a change in behaviour.
What gets your creative juices flowing? / How does inspiration come to you?
I have to keep a tight lid on my creative jar most days, as usually there is not the time in the day to let myself have free reign over my ideas and creative impulses. I have a multitude of projects and images straining to escape. Inspiration comes to me in moments of rest and meditation; for example when looking at a stone or at another time it might come from the information I gather from documentaries or the news. Then I would continue to research and think more deeply into the world around the event or its history, and the general state of modern times. I also use poetry and prose to express myself and shape my thoughts.
Why do you create art?
It serves as a release, it fulfils a need. It has similar expressive needs and
satisfactions as when playing music. The primal energy and joy of beating a drum or expressively using a paint brush cannot be matched when creating on a computer. The physical expression is the “real” experience of the artist or musician. There is always something I need to complete, something to express. This is usually
done through my art; this is a more subtle form of shouting at the world or muttering to oneself. People look at you funny when you do this on the street. But people also look at me funny when I try to explain why and what I paint.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Every month recently there seems to be something new to boost my confidence, from great comments on Instagram to being selected by galleries. I am currently exhibiting at six galleries around the country, that’s a bit of a highlight. Taking part in the Outside In National exhibition starting at Sotheby’s, another big moment for me. Being awarded the “Best Contemporary Art Practice” prize at a recent exhibition. But when all said and done, I think the highlight is simply when someone buys your artwork. Something that you have created, brought into existence, it is very personal thing, for me at least. They may have that artwork for the rest of their lives and look at it every day and even past it on to their children. I think that it is an honour.
What does your dream studio look like?
If I lived on my own the studio would be a barn in the middle of nowhere, in a forest perhaps, with a lake near. Fitted with all the mod-cons, a decent sound system, a potter’s wheel, a kiln and a bed. It would be carbon neutral of course.
Otherwise somewhere I can “escape”, in the garden perhaps. It would have to be
large enough to enable me to work on three or four, two metre canvases at once. It would need loads of organised storage for art materials. A photography corner, work tables, daylight bulbs. It would also need a time machine, so that I could spend enough time in there, which hopefully would enable me to achieve all the projects that I have in mind. A friendly cat would also be essential to give honest criticism.
Where would you like your art to take you?
I would like to be able to just be a creative artist. I would love my art to provide a
decent income, suitable enough to negate all the modern day shackles. Not having to worry about the mortgage, house repairs, buying school uniforms for
my children, and the recent increases to the cost of living; It would be amazing if a couple of renowned galleries supported me, and my artwork became collectable, particularly internationally (preferably whilst I am still alive!)
How does your artwork relate to current issues in the world?
I would not consider myself a political artist in anyway, But there is political reasoning in virtually everything we do and most decisions that we make whether we admit it or not. For example: Which supermarket we shop at. Which brand of trainers we wear and what foods we eat?. In my opinion the only truly, far reaching and vastly important world issues are ecology based. For example: global warming, over population, deforestation, carbon footprint worries, to name but a few.
For many years I have felt it my responsibility as an artist to report, educate and communicate where I can, at least some of the examples of the ongoing global emergency. I believe that human kind has neglected the fact that we as a species are reliant on the Earth for everything and as a “civilised and industrial” people we have abused our self-adorned power and are starting to see the results.
I try to add meaning and background to my artworks presenting text alongside and as an integral part of the image, highlighting the real experience of the artist through mark making etc. in contrast to the synthetic experience that we find ourselves living in. Experiencing the natural world, not distantly disengaging with it via 4K HD.
Protecting the Puffin's Egg
mixed media on photograph
Original artwork by Jonathan Oakes 2022
Does art always have to have a deeper meaning?
For me yes, otherwise it could be viewed as simple decoration. There is of course room for this type of art. People like what they like, and a lot of the time one does not want or need to think about deeper meanings or hidden agendas. Sometimes the thought processes behind an artwork can be overdone, too much tugging of goatee beards etc. For me, being an artist is how you think not just about what is created. In my opinion, the potency of the artwork is the difference between Art and art. Naturally it is a difficult thing to embed some deep meaning into every bit of art that is produced, but as long as the overlying theme is present as a driving force a message can be delivered.
Who/what inspires you? Why?
The Artist Richard Long, Art of Japanese Zenga , ancient Chinese landscape
paintings, Sir David Attenborough, Gil Scott Heron, Marcel Duchamp, Barbara
Hepworth and my daughter. She is only eleven years old and her intuitive abstract
artworks are astounding, she does not realise her talent, she has a great artistic eye for photography too. The natural world has always had a huge impact on my life and is the starting point for many of my ideologies. I am inspired desire to remind humankind to be respectful of all nature. Also to realise with deep shame what is happening to the planet due to the progress and unnatural conditions of the human race.
What brings you joy?
Many, many things, I try to find joy most days or maybe it finds me. My family for one thing. Knowing that I have a studio, after so many years scrimping. Writing poems and prose. My garden. When something fits perfectly inside a box. The markings on pebble and crunchy peanut butter sandwiches. That’s a good list for today.
How would you like to be remembered?
Fondly I guess and not as an idiot. It would be fantastic if I was remembered or indeed thought of as having made provoking or even potent art, or even just as an artist who knew what they were doing.
I Know My Onions
mixed media on paper
Original artwork by Jonathan Oakes 2022
What would you say to your younger self?
Follow you heart and not your head: could of, should of, would of equals miserable. Take opportunities, take risks and take advantage: like other people do. Trust yourself, you are worthy: Why not be yourself you are good at that. How long does one go back to the younger self? Are we on a predetermined path? Mistakes made create learning opportunities and mould one into the future self.
Jonathan Oakes 04/04/2023 www.art4oka.com