Martin, have you always wanted to be an artist?
Yes, but didn’t get the opportunity to spend much time on it until I was lucky enough to be offered a job as a gallery manager / artist about sixteen years ago. I have painted from a young age and trained as a sign writer specialising in decorative interiors.
We noticed you live near the sea, is this a source of inspiration for you?
I have always loved the sea, looking at it, painting it and sailing on it. I was nicknamed ‘the wave man’ when I got my first gallery position because I spent a lot of my day siting in the window painting large surf waves.
You have quite an eclectic mix of work from seascapes, flowers through to figures. How do you decide what you are going to paint?
Because I got into painting late in life I find I am still on a journey of discovery and just as I think I may have found my place I find something different I want to try. Also, after about five years as a full time painter, I started giving art lessons and found that I was more successful if I remained flexible … teaching what the customer wanted as opposed to specialising in any particular subject or style. So, for me, I just paint what inspires me at the time … I think it is more important to try to be original and creative than worry too much about a particular style. I know galleries and collectors like artist to be predictable, and I do paint in a consistent style for any galleries I supply, but I do like to have a choice when I wake up in the morning.
How would you describe your creative process?
Photography has been a passion of mine since I was a boy and I use my camera with paintings in mind. I don’t usually paint directly from a photograph, and I am very aware of the pitfalls of doing so, but I usually find if I found something interesting enough to photograph I would also find it interesting enough to paint.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am in a position to paint most days and I suppose I do live an artist’s lifestyle. I usually try to do some painting each day and, as I said, I love photography and I try to get out with the camera if the weather is not too bad – so I will usually be painting or out with the camera trying to capture a special image to inspire another painting.
Do you paint from a studio or on location?
I have a room that I have set up as a studio at home, I probably do 85% of my work at home now, but also enjoy painting on location when the conditions are suitable.
What is your medium of choice and why?
I do use oil, acrylic and watercolour but 90% of my work is in acrylic because it is quick drying making storage easy in a limited space. I like to work on two or three paintings at a time and just don’t have the room to store wet or soft oil paintings.
You offer painting holidays to France; can you tell us more about this?
Yes, I got to know a French artist on social media and he was always postings paintings and photographs of his region in southern France … I teach art, I like to travel and it looked a great place to paint. So I found suitable accommodation that could accommodate a small group of artists, including well lit indoor facilities to paint if it gets too hot or rains and I now organise two weeks per year – one in May (Dordogne) and one from a stunning converted barn B&B in a more rural French National Park in September. People can just join us for the odd days or for the week and we can provide accommodation, meals, painting materials and tuition if needed.
Which artists, living or deceased most inspire/influence your work?
I would say the impressionist movement, all of them, but I am always being influenced by work I see at exhibitions and galleries.
Do you like to listen to music when you create, if so what sort of music do you listen to?
I usually have the local radio on!
If you had one piece of advice for someone seeking a career in art what would it be?
Do it because you enjoy it and try to be as original and creative as possible.
If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 guests, living or deceased who would they be any why?
Lewis Hamilton (racing driver) because I did race cars a long time ago – but was never much good. Chef Rick Stein because I like cooking and he has cooked all over the world. Whoopi Goldberg because I just think she would be a great dinner guest.
What does the future look like for you?
Well I am ‘’retired’’ so I just hope to paint, here and in France, for as long as I can.
View more artwork by Artist Martin Piercy