Andrew Bird and Stephen B. Macinnis

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This week, two artists from two different countries share their work and thoughts – Andrew Bird from Derbyshire in the UK, and Stephen B. Macinnis, from Charlottetown, Canada.

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ANDREW BIRD

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I felt an instant connection to Andrew Bird’s paintings the moment that I saw them. It may be in part that I share his love for the Cornish landscape and coast, a subject often depicted in his work – but I was also instantly struck by his live sense of movement, form and colour. You can feel the breeze blowing across your face, the slide of the sea, the flash of sunlight on a coloured boat. I can feel the handmade in the gestures and strokes too, each mark has energy.

I asked him to tell me a little more about his work and practice..

“The themes in my paintings tend to come from the experience of being in a place for a period of time and the images become composites of this rather than an attempt to accurately represent a scene. I try to paint what I have seen and felt in equal measures. This could be anything from the way the light captures an object or lights up a hillside, the weather, texture on rocks, paint peeling on buildings and boats and many other things. I also try and reflect on how I experienced a place within my work.

“The process of making the work usually starts from wanting to describe a specific situation. I don’t have a rigid idea of how this will progress and let the work develop instinctively. It does, however, need to be successful in whatever the aim of the painting was at the start. I will work and re-work the whole image to achieve this. The paintings are made from many layers of paint that I build up to form textures and forms. For this I use a knife, brushes and quite often anything that comes to hand to make marks. Layers of paint are constantly scratched into to reveal underlying texture. I use recurring forms and marks within my work. These invariably represent large structures around coastal areas such as docks, harbour walls, the superstructure of ships etc. The smaller inscribed marks are usually closer detail such as steel rings on walls, groynes, buoys, windows on boats etc.

“I try to achieve a rhythm and a sense of movement throughout the composition and with the use of colour, I think that this helps to outline a sense of time rather than the image being a static snapshot.

“A large portion of my current work is based on visits to the South West of England and more specifically coastal areas of Cornwall. I find Cornwall to have a unique sense of place within the UK and find it a fascinating area to be and I hope that my work reflects this.

“Which artists do I find inspiring? I would have to include Nicolas de Staël, Patrick Heron, Scottish Colourists, Arshile Gorky, Antoni Tapies..and probably lots of others!”

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You can see more work from Andrew and make contact with him through his site, here.

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STEPHEN B. MACINNIS

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I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen’s work since the beginning of the year, when I discovered his blog, where he shares his work and documents his creative journey. Stephen is currently in the middle of a project entitled the “Long Series”, of which the works above are a part. He told me a little more about the idea:
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“I guess the best way to explain the Long Series is that I’ve always been torn between large and small work. I most often work on a smaller scale, but I enjoy working on a bigger scale too. The only problem with working large is what do I do with the work after I exhibit it? I live on an Island on the East coast of Canada and sending large work out can be expensive, and often I end up putting things in my shed, or taking them apart after they are shown.
“The Long Series became the great answer to my problem. I think of the series as one big piece with over a 1000 smaller parts. The individual paintings do stand alone, but I prefer to show them as a large installation.
There are several ways to show the work, as a large grid on a wall, as a large stack, or as selected framed paintings.
The rules I’ve set for the series are simple: 
  • The paintings are all about 12×12 inches. 
  • All done by hand. 
  • An element of chance is essential to the work.
  • No editing. If a work doesn’t seem to be successful it remains part  of the series.”

You can see Stephen’s work in context by watching the video below. I found it moving to see the work in action, a whole series of days, thoughts, moods, almost a visual diary, each one unique. The music is Stephen’s brother in law, Daniel Ledwell. You can visit Stephen’s site here.

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8 thoughts on “Andrew Bird and Stephen B. Macinnis

  1. Thanks for the introduction to Andrew’s work – really great stuff! And fantastic that you’ve featured Stephen as well – have been following his work for a few months now via his blog, and am really looking forward to being able to see it ‘for real’ one day … thanks!

  2. I have been watching Stephen’s work for a couple of months, but have not seen Andrew Bird’s work before. Thank you for introducing me to his remarkable paintings. it was love at first sight.

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