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Martin Devine

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
Must be around 6 or 7 years. I was about 34 when I decided to attend a drawing and painting evening class, with the only goal being to try something new. After 3 or 4 classes, the artist tutor told me I should take it further. I laughed, thinking she meant to attend another class session or similar, but she told me to get a portfolio together to apply for art college! I took this advice with a pinch of salt, but carried on my newly found hobby in my spare time. It was around 2000 that I tentatively asked at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland if they would display some of my work (at the time I was drawing wildlife). They looked at my work, and said go ahead, and a few weeks later I was mounting my work on their walls when someone came up to me and bought the first work I was hanging - a charcoal sketch of a solitary Highlander Cattle. Over the next two or three years I gradually lowered my hours in my office job to spend more time drawing and painting, until eventually shaking off the 9-5 totally in 2003.
What is your medium of choice?
At the moment, watercolour, however gouache, oil, acrylic, sprays, pencil, charcoal, and pastel are never far away. I see myself as very much still experimenting and learning, but then I guess I always will. For the moment, watercolour is dominating, as I love the way it continually rebels against control, trying to assert its belief that it has its own mind. Great stuff.
What are your motivations for creating?
At first it was simply personal enjoyment. I now also believe drawing and painting can reach everyone somehow, and they take their own message or feelings from it - I love the feedback I get from collectors, it is always fascinating to see what someone takes from a painting. I don't think messages from a painter need be fixed, the viewer plays a big (if not bigger) part.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
Phew, this is a difficult one to me. Other people have told me they see differing clashes of some of : colour field, minimal, modern, colourist, and abstract in my current series of landscapes. All very interesting. But I can only say what I have perhaps looked and thought on longer : Aspects of minimalism, Bridget Riley, Picasso nudes, Da Vinci drawings, Rothko, and in my mind the two biggest cornerstones of art history, Manet and Cezanne. How this informs my work ? I think I will leave that to someone else to answer !
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
I keep finding myself looking back at the Scottish Colourists work recently. I think I have an inkling to paint more oil, and something is stirring in my head around all of this, but I haven't quite dug it out of my brain. More recent and again close to home for me, the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, who sadly died last month.
Read anything good lately?
A pulp fiction book I cant even remember the name of, it bored me so - was a poor mans version of a the Da Vinci Code. Unusually for me, I finished it even though I didn't enjoy one page of it ... I knew I had a gentle masochist thing somewhere in my depths. At the moment, I am reading "How mumbo-jumbo conquered the world" by Francis Wheen. A quote ... "the House of Lords held a full length parliamentary debate on UFOs in 1979, during which it was revealed that not all aliens came from space: some emerged through tunnels from a civilisation beneath the earths crust. One Lords member said, "I haven't been down there myself, but from what I gather they are very advanced." This is true.
Tell us a little about your unique approach to the landscape.
I see the landscape as a near blank canvas that folk cover with stuff. I try to strip the stuff a little and reveal some of the simplicity, a bit of the essence of the view. What interests me is what the remaining reveals of the country, region, town or whatever, and of its people. Or if you will, I paint "minimal landscapes", verging on "distant-abstract", with a pinch of modernism and a sprinkling of colour. So it is said.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
About my work, I've said too much already ! People should take from it as they see fit, but always leaving some for someone else. About me ? I'm 6 foot five, dark hair, handsome James Bond looks (you pick which one), wealthy, compassionate, sensitive, and have a healthy addiction to hugely exaggerating my appearance. Beyond that, I am a painter now, and always will be.

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