Introduce yourself please…
My name is Jamie Birkett and I’m an artist that specialises in landscape and seascape paintings of the Northumberland Coastline. I work in Oil paint on canvas as it is the best suited medium for my approach.
Tell us how you first started out as an artist?
My interest in art first began in my younger school years where I began to experiment with drawing, painting, sculpting, etching, and printmaking as part of some school projects. Having an interest in multiple areas I was always curious as to what was possible with different mediums and so I kept experimenting with different techniques. After many years of experimentation and trying different techniques I realised that I enjoyed drawing and painting more than the other mediums.
What’s your background? What did you do before you were an artist?
I’ve painted since I can remember and over the years I have experimented with many different mediums including; painting, drawing, sculpting, etching, collage, and printmaking. The many different mediums allowed me to identify what I enjoyed most as an artist and what suited my style best. I have always loved art and the process of being creative, I can’t remember a period of time where I wasn’t doing something creative.
Why do you do what you do?
The reason why I love to paint is that it allows me to turn almost any idea into reality. With each painting my expression as an artist becomes more accurate, which makes the process of creating even more rewarding and creates more possibilities.
What inspires you?
I am mostly inspired by artists that take an unconventional approach to painting, those that take risks, those that are efficient with brushstrokes and that can paint in many different ways and connect with their audience.
How would you describe your work?
I would describe my work as a continuous experimentation to see what’s possible through the medium of oil paint by using many different techniques. Those techniques include; glazing, impasto painting, sfumato, washing, scumbling, dry brushing etc, and are all done with the intention to merge together as one to create a painting instead of individual techniques.
Can you tell us what you aim to achieve through your art?
I believe that before there is art there is a vision. My vision is to create art that everyone can connect with and be inspired by. I want my paintings to be aesthetically engaging and technically innovative.
How do you work?
My paintings are done over many layers, starting off with a rough sketch and then blocking in the basic tones of what I’m painting, not getting too caught up in detail too soon. I always like to create a foundation for my paintings, that way the process of building up layers is more natural and at each phase more detail can be added. I usually work through the layers until enough detail is achieved in each area, after that I’ll then add the finishing touches and glazes to bring together all the colours. Once everything is dry, a gloss varnish is applied to unify all the layers in the painting.
How have you developed your work?
My work has developed through continuous experimentation, going in many different directions and also being curious. Although there are many ways to improve as an artist, I believe that you’re only as good as your weakest areas and so most of my experimentation and practice is spent around the areas that could potentially lower the standard of my work.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are artists of the past and also real life scenery that offers the ability to paint things in unique ways with lots of colour, contrast, light and texture.
What influences from The North East have inspired your work?
In terms of the North East, my main source of inspiration is the scenery and in particular Northumberland. I like painting landscapes and seascapes that continuously change in atmosphere, but that can also be recognised by the viewer. Northumberland allows me to achieve both.
What work are you most proud of?
The most enjoyable painting I’ve done and the work I’m most proud of would be ‘Coastal Impressions’, not because of how it turned out in the end but how rewarding the process was using new techniques. it allowed me to see what else was possible and that there’s many more areas in my paintings that I can improve on.
What has been your most challenging creation?
The most challenging painting I’ve done would be ‘Changing Tides’. The reason it was so hard, was because I was trying to capture a change in the tide, movement in the clouds as well as the contrast and the light coming from the distance. The hardest part was making all of these conflicting individual areas work together and relate to each other.
What’s your favourite piece of artwork?
My favourite painting always changes depending on who I’m studying and learning from at the time, but with that being said, ‘The Parting of Hero and Leander’ by Turner was one of my favourite paintings to see in person and look at in the National Gallery. The use of washes by Turner and the contrast in light give his paintings so much movement and engagement compared to other artists. My favourite ever composition though is ‘Las Meninas’ by Velazquez. Velazquez is also my favourite artist to study and when it comes to efficiency of brushstrokes, understanding of composition and technical painting, I believe he is ahead of everyone else.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My ambitions for the future are to continue to grow my skills and my brand as an artist. I want to create paintings that are aesthetically engaging and technically innovative for the audience.
What is your story with North East Art Collective?
I feel as though my story with North East Art Collective is just getting started. Over the last few years I have started to find my path as an artist and understand the direction I want to take my work. When I first came into the gallery I was just an artist who painted landscapes, but now there is more authenticity and more thought behind my paintings. I understand what my vision is and because of that, I believe more people are now connecting with my work. My goal is to continue my journey of improvement and development as an artist.