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In The Studio with Bob Hughes

“I am a self-taught artist born in Merseyside. My passion for painting goes back to my childhood. When I was fifteen, I attended the Laird School of Art in Birkenhead studying ‘Commercial Art’. After the third year, I decided that this was not a career I wanted and left to find work.

Although art has always played a big part throughout my working life, it was only after being made redundant from my job in a pharmaceutical company in 1994 that I decided to take art more seriously. In 1999 I graduated with a BA (Hon) degree in Graphic Art from Liverpool John Moores University. I later went on to Adult Education teaching Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced painting and drawing techniques.

My subject matter varies from landscape, wildlife, still life to portraits. I look at an image or an object and wonder how it would look if I changed its whole aspect using my new painting style which I call ‘Abstract Vector Impressionism’. I use my computer and various programmes including, AI (Artificial Intelligence), to turn my images/ideas into abstract vector shapes, I then exaggerate the colours in the image to see how it would look as an impressionist painting…and this is before I get to work on the image in paint.

‘Abstract Vector Impressionism’ has made me rethink my approach to painting, by removing emotional restraints that have stood in my way for years, I am able to be more adventurous in my approach to my painting and as a result.” Can you describe your style?

I am an ‘Abstract Vector Impressionist’ artist.

Which medium do you work with and what do you like about it specifically?

I use Winsor & Newton artist oil paints because of their high quality and consistency. They are known for their vibrant colours and ability to blend smoothly, making them a great choice for creating rich, layered paintings. Additionally, oil paints have a slow drying time which allows artists to work with the paint for an extended period of time, and make changes to their work as they go. This versatility and control is what I enjoy most about working with oil paints.

Can you talk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just go straight in? How long do you spend on one piece? How do you know when it is finished?

I am open to experimentation and constantly seeking new ways to push my creative boundaries. Regarding my process, it’s important to note that planning and preparation are key factors in producing a successful painting. My approach of creating a digital mockup allows me to experiment with different design elements and make changes before committing to the physical canvas. This not only saves time but also gives me the confidence to move forward with the painting knowing that I have a clear vision in mind.

Furthermore, the use of AI in my process is an interesting and innovative technique. It’s fascinating how this technology can assist in generating new ideas and possibilities that I may not have considered before. It’s worth mentioning that while AI can be a valuable tool, it’s important to maintain a balance between using it to enhance your work and relying on it too heavily, which may detract from your personal artistic vision. I also mentioned the importance of patience and perseverance when it comes to completing a painting.

It’s understandable that a large piece can take several months to finish, but taking the time to plan and execute each stage of the process ensures that you produce a piece that you’re proud of. It’s also interesting to note that losing interest in a painting halfway through can be a common issue for artists, but having a clear plan in place can help mitigate this.

Finally, I use my own judgement and perspective to determine when a painting is complete. Ultimately, this is a subjective decision and it’s important to trust your own artistic intuition. Overall, by demonstrating a willingness to embrace new technologies and techniques and by planning, experimenting and persevering, I am able to produce paintings that reflect my personal style and vision.

When did you begin your career in art?

I have always been interested in Art, but never pursued it seriously, it was after I was made redundant from my job in a Pharmaceutical company in 1994 that I started thinking about art, teaching or painting. In 1997, I enrolled on a BA Honours Degree course in Graphic Art at Liverpool John Moores University School of Art and graduated in 1999.

I later got a job at Liverpool Adult Learning Services, teaching adults, basic, intermediate and advanced drawing and painting techniques. I later started teaching workshops and painting demonstrating to art clubs, societies and small businesses around the North West and Central parts of the UK and North Wales.

It was after this period when I started taking painting more seriously. In 2012, Liverpool put on an event in the city, The Sea Odyssey which was to prove to be the inspiration that drove me to developing my ‘Abstract Vector Impressionism’ paintings. My painting “Gulliver” was a direct response to something I witnessed along with tens of thousands of people at that event.

Who or what inspires your art?

My Inspiration come from all directions and from unexpected places, people, landscape, wildlife and even scrap, it’s important to be open and receptive to ideas as they come. An idea may come into my head and I run with it to see if it is worth pursuing it any further, sometime the idea will fizzle out quickly, then you get one that really inspires you, that is when you start getting excited. It’s also worth noting that sometimes an idea may seem insignificant or unimportant at first, but with time and further exploration, it can develop into something truly inspiring and meaningful.

Why is art and creativity important to you?

Art and creativity can provide a multitude of benefits to individuals. For some, it can be a form of therapy and an outlet for emotions that might be difficult to express in words. It can also serve as a way to relieve stress and anxiety, allowing me to escape the pressures of daily life and enter a state of flow where I can fully immerse myself in the creative process.

Furthermore, art has the ability to connect people across cultures and generations. It is a universal language that can be appreciated and understood by people from all walks of life. As an artist, the act of creating can also be a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, as it allows me to explore my own thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. In addition to personal benefits, art and creativity can also contribute to society in meaningful ways.

Art has the power to inspire and challenge social norms, spark important conversations, and promote understanding and empathy. Through collaboration and community involvement, art can also be used to bring people together and promote positive change. Overall, art and creativity plays a vital role in my life and has the potential to impact individuals and society in profound ways.

Art you represented by a gallery? if so, what do you gain from being a member with the gallery?

I am with dot-art, an Independent art gallery in Liverpool. I have the opportunity to connect with other artists and art enthusiasts in the community. This sense of belonging and support is invaluable to me as an artist. It also allows me to showcase my work in various exhibitions and events organized by dot-art, providing exposure for my art and the chance to network with potential buyers, collectors, and collaborators.

Moreover, being part of dot-art also gives me the opportunity to give back to the community through their teaching programme, where I can share my knowledge and skills with aspiring artists of all ages and backgrounds. This is a fulfilling experience, as I get to inspire and encourage others to pursue their passion for art. In addition, dot-art offers various resources and tools for artists, such as training sessions, marketing support, and access to affordable studio space.

This support and guidance is crucial to my growth as an artist, enabling me to improve my techniques and promote my work more effectively. Overall, being a member with dot-art has provided me with a sense of community, opportunities for growth and development, and a platform to showcase my art to a wider audience.

What does it mean to be an artist in the Liverpool City Region?

Being an artist in the Liverpool City Region is more than just being part of a vibrant cultural scene, it is also about being part of a supportive community that values creativity and self-expression. The city has a rich history of producing some of the world’s most influential artists, musicians, and writers, and this legacy continues to inspire and motivate the current generation of artists.

The Liverpool City Region has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and creative spaces that provide opportunities for artists to showcase their work and connect with other artists and art enthusiasts. There are also various art organizations and initiatives, such as dot-art, that support and promote local artists through exhibitions, workshops, and other events. As an artist in the Liverpool City Region, one can draw inspiration from the city’s diverse architecture, landscapes, and people.

From the iconic waterfront to the bustling streets of the city center, there is no shortage of subjects to capture on canvas or in other forms of art. Furthermore, the city’s cultural diversity and history provide a rich tapestry of stories and experiences to explore and express through art. In summary, being an artist in the Liverpool City Region means being part of a vibrant and supportive creative community, drawing inspiration from the city’s rich history and diverse culture, and contributing to the ongoing legacy of artistic excellence that the city is known for.

What are you working on at the moment? I have just completed blocking in my latest painting ‘Detritus-an allegory of life’ 80 x 100 cm oil on canvas, it is a still life of old discarded rusty cogs, wheels angle iron etc. After the painting had dried, I will go back To it to finish off the values a enhance the colours to a finished state …here is a poem I created for the painting…

‘Detritus, an Allegory of Life’

Once proud and purposeful, Now forgotten and forlorn, These remnants of our past, Serve as a reminder we are all born. Born to live and love, To create and inspire, But time takes its toll, And eventually, we all expire. Our wheels and cogs may rust, Our scrap iron may bend and break, But our memories and our legacy, Are the treasures that we make. So let us honour the detritus, And the stories it can tell, For in its silent testimony, Lies the beauty of a life lived well. Let it remind us of our frailty, And the fleeting nature of time, And inspire us to make the most of our days, Before we too become detritus on life’s endless climb. I have also started on a new painting in my series of ‘Rock Icons’ 125 x 90 cm oil on canvas.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? “Be open to inspiration wherever it comes from” is a valuable piece of advice that I would give as an artist. It has encouraged me to keep an open mind and to seek inspiration in all aspects of life, whether it be through nature, people, music, or even everyday objects. This advice has allowed me to expand my creative horizons and find inspiration in unexpected places. It has also taught me to approach my work with a sense of curiosity and to constantly seek out new experiences and perspectives. Ultimately, being open to inspiration has allowed me to grow as an artist and to create work that is both meaningful and authentic.

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