An interview with artist David Thomas
What form of art or media do you work with?
For the last four years or so I’ve felt uneasy working from anything that is not directly there so most of the time I work from objects arranged in front of me. All the paintings are in oil either on board or canvas. I occasionally paint an interior from a photograph.
Can you describe your studio/work space.
I’ve got the ground floor of a rather decrepit shop but it’s a fantastic white space. It has two big west facing windows and the light in winter can be too intense; grey days are best. There are a lot of objects on a range of shelves, benches and table. Anna, my wife, works upstairs. I was given an old stove: it’s essential.
Can you please give a brief description of your creation process and technique.
I make lots of drawings direct from the object leading to a series of oil sketches and then larger and more substantial paintings. I work fast and prefer to get a painting started and finished within daylight. Each painting takes days, sometimes weeks, of work from first drawing to the end. Sometimes it feels like it’s merely a full stop to the whole process.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished some large still-lifes for Webb Fine Art in Clapham, London. It was difficult negotiating between what I could do and what the owner wanted. Right now I’m struggling with an etching that I’m doing up at Bridget Tempest’s place- I’m having to totally rethink my drawing technique.
How do you know when a work is complete?
I don’t. I might think it’s finished but paintings have been known to reactivate. Really they’re only properly finished when they’re sold and on someone else’s wall
Do you listen to music when you are working, or the radio, or work in silence?
Radio 4 when I’m drawing but silence when painting. I occasionally listen to music; Kings of Leon if I’m feeling energetic.
What are you reading at the moment?
Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor- a beautiful, sad remembering of middle Europe just before the disaster
What is your favourite artwork by another artist?
The Triumph of Pan by Nicolas Poussin
Please complete the following sentences in whatever way is meaningful to you:
a) Artists should have their tongues torn out
b) Art is ..1 “. …whatever is not not art ” Ad Reinhardt or 2. …that of which I have no idea
c) The World “comes at you as if fired from the barrel of a revolver” William James
What is the worst thing someone has said about your work?
Someone once said “my 3 year old granddaughter could do better than that” in my hearing. Yes, people do have original insights like that sometimes but I took it as a small success.
Who is your favourite German Expressionist painter?
I saw some brilliant early 20th C painting in Berlin this summer but there is still only one Ludwig Kirchner.
Thank you Dave