NIGEL WILSON: FLUIDITY AND CHANGE
To play, experiment and remain unencumbered in one's work is a skill many are striving desperately to master. When ironically, the very act of striving to reach such a level of artistic freedom is perhaps the very thing blocking it’s arrival.
Creativity is not an output, but an energy. Discovered only through sequence, not once you hit some grandiose end point. However, once renown is established in the art world it can be very easy for the artist to slip into the trap of needing to continually create to that specific standard, so as to secure reverence, and ultimately end up making performance based decisions. Having been successfully painting for the past 20 years, Nigel has navigated this misgiving with a refreshing response to fluidity and change. The ability to wilfully detach from one stylistic approach in order to adopt a new mode of exploring has seen the progression of his work continually deliver - all while staying true to the quintessential look that has forever classed ‘a Nigel Wilson.’
Do you remember the first piece you ever sold or exhibited that meant something to you?
“Yeah, the first thing you sell does mean something to you. It means the thing you’ve done is being shared with other people, and they’re willing to pay money for it. It’s quite a good feeling really, and it doesn’t go away either. Every time you sell something you feel like that.”
If art is a conversation what do you like talking about the most?
“The technical aspects really. I like to know how paintings are made, and what methods were taken. Art is something there are no rules for. There’s no right way to do it or wrong way to do it, and I’ve always just done it intuitively really. Most artists just find an approach and do their way, and find their own direction. You have to have an idea for a painting, but a lot of it’s just technique.”
What would your advice be to someone who says they don’t have a creative bone in their body?
“That’s wrong. People need to just get over that one for a start! Most people are creative, the human species is creative, we just don’t realise it. But it depends on what you’re talking about. What does creative mean? Making something? We all make things, we all invent….Doing something creatively could just mean the way you do it, as opposed to how somebody else does it.”
What has your practise taught you about the nature of process and embracing imperfections?
“It’s frustrating, but making a work of art is sort of beyond your control in a way, and for it to work you actually don’t know what you’ve done. That’s an unnatural way for a human to think - people are usually very logical, but art is very chaotic and uncontrolled and there’s no instruction manual for it. Which makes it completely beyond comprehension. It’s what makes it so worthwhile doing too, of course - not knowing what you’re doing properly makes it completely bewildering.
Unlike writing a book, where you mostly have a person behind you saying ‘fix that up’, the artist can easily fall into their own set traps. So it’s trial and error all the way. You make a lot of mistakes, then they're out there on show for everyone to see. But everyone knows that you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes because that’s the way to learn. Unlike pressing backspace on a document, you do press backspace in a way but when you do everything changes - the whole page completely changes. The artist knows that if you do something to a painting it changes the whole of it. It’s a fascinating procedure because a painting can keep being redone until you’re happy with it…..and you’re never completely happy with it of course. You have to tell yourself that mistakes are part of the whole process and that you have to make them to get anywhere, and to not be afraid to go beyond and explore the idea. To just know that you’re going to kill a painting in order to make it better. So that’s what I’m doing all day!”
What is one of the nicest or most encouraging comments someone has paid you in regards to your work?
“I really like the new work you’re doing. That’s encouraging because it’s nice to know that how you're developing is actually on track with people’s taste for art. It’s sort of a tricky thing to get right because you have to paint the way that feels right to you but if you’re doing it for a living it’s like any product, it always has the ability to sell or not sell. As an artist you’re kind of always concerned about how you can sort of just stay on top of the game, because there are a lot of artists out there and it’s very competitive. So in that way, everything that people say is really helpful - even if they don’t know much, all opinions are of value and important to me really.”
Do you have any specific rituals or habits you engage in before you start your practice?
“Oh yes, I’m very superstitious actually. For instance, the amount of coffee I drink is very vital. Number 2, I meditate before I paint. And also, I sort of think what I’ve had for breakfast effects how I paint that day. I think you’re more on track if you have a certain sort of breakfast, or if you haven’t painted well that day you blame your breakfast. You’ve got to blame something don't you…?
You can’t flog yourself!”
What’s your breakfast of choice then?
“I think homemade muesli is the best…”