Introduce yourself please…
Hi, I am Michael James, from Consett, County Durham.
Tell us how you first started out as an artist?
I have always been interested in art since childhood, but when my children got older, I was able to put more time into my painting and things got bigger from there.
What’s your background? What did you do before you were an artist?
I left school and served my time as a cabinetmaker and have worked as a carpenter/joiner ever since. I am fortunate enough to now be able to be both a professional artist as well as a self-employed carpenter/joiner.
Why do you do what you do?
Art is very important to me and I consider the ability to paint to be a gift, as such it would be a waste not to pursue it. Also I find painting to be a release for me, doing something I really love. I am a very creative person and I am really at home when I’m in my studio.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from feelings and memories. I love to paint rain and snow scenes, inspired by the feel of the weather, always trying to portray the mood in my work just as much as the subject matter.
How would you describe your work?
My latest work is more loose and impressionistic. The colour palette and subject matter conveying a mood and sense of feeling, always incorporating a touch of red to be found in every painting, whether it is a stop light or brake light. The touch of red is always there.
Can you tell us what you aim to achieve through your art?
As for goals and achievement in art, it is really quite simple for me. I want to continue to improve to become the best artist that I can be, and to have as many people as possible to enjoy my paintings. It is a great feeling as an artist when someone really loves a piece of my work enough to want to hang it in their home.
How do you work?
As I have progressed as an artist over the years, I have now converted my garage into my own studio. Clients who visit, can see my artwork hanging in my home, then continue through to my studio to view current work and see where my work is created.
How have you developed you work?
I mainly work from photographs, acting as subject matter, and then add my own effects to convey weather, time of day, lights, mood etc. This is the artistic bit, which I really enjoy. My work has developed over the years, starting out with watercolour on paper, to acrylic on canvas, with a few different styles and techniques in between! My work is constantly evolving as I work to be a better artist.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
My influences are cities, especially Newcastle as it is home. I am a great fan of American artist Jeremy Mann, his work is loose, suggestive and inspirational. There’s always a great artist to admire and work towards, not copying them, but to find what it is in their work that you love and to incorporate that into your work, importantly, in your own style. Not to plagiarise.
What influences from The North East have inspired your work?
Influences from the North are all of the famous landmarks, streets and weather up here!
What work are you most proud of?
I am proud of every piece of work I have created. I see them as progression towards the best I can be.
What has been your most challenging creation?
The most challenging work would have to be commissioned work. Although I love to do commissioned work, it is naturally more constraining as I am working with a client to specific details, to produce a piece of work they really want, down to the smallest detail, including where to place THEIR touch of red. It is harder work than just having the freedom to paint as you go.
What work are you most proud of?
Some pieces of work I produce have a particular attachment to me and there is always a painting that I like better than others, but at the end of the day it’s what the client likes best. They are the ones that hang it in their homes.
What are your ambitions for the future?
As for ambitions …. Simply work hard and constantly improve to be the best artist I can be with lots of people interested in my artwork. I know I will never reach perfection, that’s all part of the game. As Salvador Dali once said “Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it”. I love that quote, because it is true … but it is a great journey trying.
What is your story with North East Art Collective?
The North East Art Collective was the first BIG gallery to take me on board. It was a big buzz and achievement for me at the time. Since then I have struck up a good friendship and bond with all of the gallery team. It is great to be part of it, in the heart of my favourite city too!!