Inspiration rarely comes in a flash. It most often comes about as a product of regular work. Paintings which take months to produce don't spontaneously come to mind in an instant, but rather develop slowly through careful consideration and a workspace which creates an atmosphere for creative decisions to grow. The studio space and ideas surrounding it have evolved over time. The term Studio is originally derived from the Latin word to study, a room which was designed for contemplation. Prior to the 19th Century however, the notion of developing one's own artistic style was relatively unknown. One can think of the studio of this period more as a workshop than a study.
Artist's studios of today resemble somewhere between the two. I'd like to take the time to invite you into mine, to show you the objects which I've chosen to keep here, and how the studio environment affects the way artist's pursue aesthetic development.
I work in a studio in Kent which is part of a larger building hosing some nine other artists. They are a mixture of professional artists like me, working across a range of media. Each artist's space embodies a distinct way of approaching the creative process. Some have chaotic studios, with hundreds of ideas and drawings pinned to the wall, and open materials left on work benches for easy access. Others treat theirs like a workshop with power tools and equipment for large sculptural works.
I try to approach my studio like a sanctuary. A quiet place of reflection, creativity and growth. I want my space to feel like the paintings I make. These are the places I've always found to be the most inspirational and the most needed in my life. Spaces that convey a quiet and yet dramatic atmosphere, where the timeless and ephemeral coexist. I have selected ceramics and artefacts in the studio which I often use in paintings. I like to pair them with dried or wildflowers; fragile objects which hold a sense of time, be that an old vase or a budding flower.
My other primary interest is in equine forms and their composition within a frame. I find that the power and movement of a horse when rendered still in a painting takes on a solemnity and grace as though its weight and energy has been made silent and timeless.
When I approach creating a new work, be it a botanical or animal form, I always think about the atmosphere I want the piece to have. Sometimes I want the piece to be about the changing light throughout the day. For this I might select a subject like an Icelandic poppy in a vase. Their fragile petals and fleeting blooms make a good subject to paint when thinking about changing daylight. Whereas if I wanted to make a piece about dusk, then I may select an equine model, turned against a low light with its eyes fixed on a horizon out of frame and surrounded by brown autumnal leaves which mirror the colour in the horse's coat.
In most cases paintings aren't about the subjects within them but rather about the atmosphere they create. They are about bringing a calm presence to a space; an object to invite contemplation and reflection.
Ideas must change along the way. Sometimes an idea which seemed great in one's head doesn't achieve its desired effect on the canvas. The result of this constant trial and error, constant judgement changes and a careful attention to detail, produces paintings which can't come to you in a flash of inspiration but instead come through careful and steady work in the studio.
Joseph Black, whose work is currently on view in The Miniature Show, lives and works in Kent. He trained at Camberwell College of Art, graduating with a BFA in painting in 2015, followed by a Masters Degree in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute in 2016. Black's work conveys a quiet and eternal atmosphere, where the timeless and ephemeral are contrasted.
To find out more about the artist and his work click here.