Creative Career Backstage: An Artist’s Life
Matthew Usmar Walkswithdogs
Dear Creative Folk,
I thought you might enjoy a little Sunday read about a dear friend of mine and super inspiring artist.
He’s living the life I secretly want on a Greek Island and this talented soul not only is a prolific multi media artist but he rescues cats and dogs on a daily basis, feeds them, cares for them and re-homes them.
I am in love with his latest series of art prints and can’t wait for mine to hang on my wall.
Over to Matthew..
You are living the dream life on a Greek Island with your own studio in the main village square. Tell us about the inspiration for your new flower series.
Flowers are everywhere here, especially at springtime and this island is particularly abundant. This life, is predominantly rural and the villagers traditionally grow their own produce and that includes flowers. In the forecourts of petrol stations here, one can find prize displays of roses. They even eat flowers, the glowing, robust orange and yellow flowers of the zucchini plant are stuffed with feta cheese or rice… it’s said to be the signature dish of the island.
What do you think makes your work really unique?
Well I hope it is original… I never try to kid myself with my work and I gave up a very long time ago trying/ hoping to find external validation. If one is honest and genuinely enjoys, (perhaps in some cases needs), to work/paint/ create, then I don’t think you can go wrong and everything will move in the right direction.
Was this series painted outdoors or in a studio? Are there important parameters for you when you work?
With ‘still lives’ such as the flower paintings I’ll be working in the studio. Its in the title, it is a subject that is generally set up or at least created inside… unlike hiking up to the foot of a mountain or in to the middle of a forest with an arm full of canvas and brushes and a rucksack full of paint. The light here in the North Aegean is sublime… strong or subtle and very rich, packed with ultraviolet… everything positively glows.
It’s also very peaceful here, very little distraction, and if distracted it of the gentle kind. A dog barking or a man selling fish or produce, an animated conversation between two octogenarians.
What insights into life does your creative career and life as an artist give you?
I think anyone who is genuinely, let’s say creative, watches the world, uses the world as a muse. An artist is in some respects an outsider, perhaps sometimes a little eccentric, but artists, (creatives), watch and listen and learn and seem to be generally accepted in most circles. This village has seemingly accepted me and my comings and goings, but if asked I think a lot of them wouldn’t be able to describe just what it is I do behind the Greek blue doors of my studio… but I think they know it’s positive.
What is one of the most joyful things about the process of painting?
Painting is my vocation, I have to do it. Frankly for me it boarders on compulsion, but it is the language I feel at home with, the language that has proved to be the most eloquent in trying to describe… well, anything in life really. One of the most joyful things about the process of painting is, I guess, having a language that is visual and therefore pretty much universal. To be able to express a subject, an idea that most can understand and, perhaps, appreciate.
You have been painting for, well, over 20 years and have had a distinguished life as a artist working at the National Theatre in London and creating incredible sets for bands such as U2. Is there something you wished you knew as an artist when you started out?
In retrospect I would say, and I say this to anyone asking about venturing into any vein of artistic self expression, is that there are no rules… absolutely none. And that, once fully appreciated, gives rise to a wonderful and whole hearted sense of freedom.
Huge thanks to Matthew for sharing his story and insight.
You can check out Matthews Flowers prints HERE
Wishing you a beautiful weekend.