From exhibitions and showrooms to art centres, Abu Dhabi-based artist Andrew Field’s work has been exhibited all over the capital in recent months. His latest project involves a painting commemorating the 50th anniversary of Abu Dhabi’s The Club which will be featured in a commemorative book to be published next year. We talk to Andrew about how bad weather makes for great paintings and how our direct surroundings influence who we are.
I have lived… in Abu Dhabi for about seven years. I am originally from Birmingham in the UK and I grew up in a small town called Sutton Coldfield. I left Birmingham when I was 18 years old to study in Lancaster. I haven’t ever been back.
Art is… a major part of my life. I remember painting in my grandmother’s backyard as a young child. I don't think one is born an artist and I believe an interest in the subject is inspired by one’s surroundings and the people in them. I am fortunate to have had fantastic people around me to support and nurture my talent. My childhood experiences going fishing along the English rivers or playing football in the field at the back of my house led me to become a landscape painter.
My work is… based on the landscape I find myself surrounded by. I could be on a beach in Salalah in Oman, on The Island in St Ives in the UK or just off the Sheikh Khalifa Highway on Yas Island. It all depends on the time of year and where my family decides to travel on holiday. I am part of a rare breed of modern day artists who take their materials with them and work directly from the landscape rather than closed in a studio. A lot of contemporary artists don't see this approach as fashionable but by immersing myself in the elements I can record immediate experiences through my work. I paint in all weathers and all seasons, sometimes in the forty degree heat in Abu Dhabi or when rain is lashing down in the UK. I look at the environment to find an area of focus that attracts me and then I go about organising my gear.
I start a new piece… by working on sheets of hand-made Indian rag paper clipped to a board. The painting begins with water colour being applied rapidly, sometimes in detail, sometimes very loosely. Much splattering and pouring, scratching and rubbing takes place while I search for a combination of delicate, detailed areas that contrast with distressed mark-making. The surface is cut into and gouged by a knife blade or my fingernails to reveal the fresh white of the underlying paper. Ink is poured on and more water colours and acrylics are added. I might add pieces of paper that have been washed up on the shore. At all times I will be watching for changes in the weather conditions or sudden occurrences such as birds swooping or fish jumping so I can document them. Finally I will make field notes - such as the date, time, sounds, smells, people that I have experienced - as a way of recording and documenting the experience.
I try my best to… catch that feeling of the light on the sea, the surface of the water, the wind’s movement, the meeting of the water and the shore. Because I work with nature, I never know how long a composition will take.
In terms of colour… I like hues that reflect what I see so my palette consists of cerulean, cobalt and Prussian blues as well as viridian and phthalo greens that contrast with yellow ochres and burnt siennas. I like to use colour to convey the emotions I feel towards a place and therefore tend to throw colour on instinctively. The more atmospheric and intense the weather conditions the more dramatic and expressive my work becomes.
I take inspiration… in Abu Dhabi by walking or driving around in my truck where I store all my materials. This gives me the freedom to discover new, hidden areas. I try to find unusual features in the landscape such as variations in the appearance of the sea, or the atmospheric qualities of the mist floating over the mangroves. It might be the lichens that have created interesting surface qualities on rocks or a sudden patch of colourful flora, or even a shoal of fish swimming in the shallows.
You’ll find me hiding… amongst the Abu Dhabi mangroves. My choice to paint isolated, natural environments mirrors who I am as a person. For me, the desert is equivalent to the English countryside. I love it.
For more information or to purchase Andrew Field artwork visit www.andrewfieldfineart.com