In the Studio: Jacob Gourley

This month dot-art takes a peek in to the life of artist member Jacob Gourley. Join us as we get to know more about Jacob’s experience as an artist, how the mundane scenes of every day life inspire his beautiful oil paintings and if he has any weird and wonderful creative habits!

Which medium do you work with and what do you like about it specifically?

Oil paint – the richness of the tones and colours, its flexibility as a medium and that it takes a while to dry so you can continue working into the wet paint.

Describe your style of art:

A fusion of painterly realism and abstraction, with a strong emphasis on portraiture.

Can you talk us through your process? Do you begin with a sketch, or do you just go straight in? How long do you spend on one piece? How do you know when it is finished?

I will often take candid photographs from my phone, which I use as loose references for my paintings. Or I will ask people to either sit for a photograph or sometimes be painted from life. Before beginning a large painting, occasionally I will make small sketches to test out composition ideas and/or quick small paintings to test out the colour palette.

The duration varies depending on the size of the canvas and how faithful I am to the reference photo(s), therefore a piece can take anytime between 4 to 40 hours. Admittedly I find finishing a painting very difficult, as it’s not always obvious when it is finished. The portrait aspect is often the most straightforward part, since it’s clear when it’s not quite right, and what needs doing. Whereas the background i.e. the context of the figure, provides more of a challenge due to degree of abstraction involved.

I think for me it’s finding the point where all of the elements in the painting i.e. the figure/portrait, the composition and colours, seem to coalesce and work well together, I know when they don’t.

When did you begin your career in art? 

Early 2018, a few months after graduating from a fine art degree.

Who or what inspires your art? 

People in the everyday, the mundane scenes in day to day life.

What is one of your favourite pieces that you have done and why? 

‘Connection 01’ as it probably was one of the most ambitious paintings I’ve attempted in terms of scale and composition. I feel the colour palette works well and the figures integrate well with the background, also, along with ‘Connection 02’, it has a strong narrative aspect.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Continuing the public transport theme, as well as a high visibility worker series.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

Don’t wait for inspiration to magically appear, get in the studio and pick up a paintbrush.

What’s your most unusual artistic habit/strangest technique which you have learnt?

I occasionally use car body filler to create a textured ground.

What are your favourite things to listen to whilst painting? If anything! 

Depends on mood, sometimes chilled instrumental music, sometimes more upbeat, or podcasts or when studio is really quiet I like painting in silence.

Winner of The Wirral Society of Arts Open Exhibition.

Discover Jacob Gourley’s original artwork and limited edition prints via our online shop!