Paul Morris is an artist who lives in the south of France. His work has a nostalgic kind of vibe http://www.mostlygreenstuff.com/ that I find intriguing. Given that, you might assume Paul is the philosophical type. Not really. Here’s our cool chat…
“… I'm not really into getting into philosophical discussions about art. It's basically just another form of expression, like writing music or making up stories. Some people find it engaging, some people don't ...”
MICHAEL: Hello Paul, Your work is very intriguing. It's mixed media that uses painting and collage maybe? It's like nostalgia, but in a contemporary way. How do you describe your work?
PAUL: Like most artists, I find it difficult to describe my work! But essentially I think what I'm trying to create is the aesthetic of neglected and forgotten artifacts. Each piece has its own little narrative and those narratives are often mined from my own personal story. Having worked as a graphic designer and before that, in printing, I think you can see the influence those professions have had on my work.
When I worked in print, it was pre-Photoshop days, so photographs had to be shot through a half-tone filter and re-touched by hand, lines were drawn with a pen, typesetting was aligned by eye etc. All of those things introduced inevitable imperfections and those imperfections had a certain nostalgic charm that I try to re-create in my work. I employ mixed techniques and elements are indeed painted by hand. Equally, I use transfer techniques and relief elements. Hardly ever collage though. For me, the nuance is very important.
MICHAEL: Are you a history buff? Why neglected and forgotten artifacts? I think it would be very interesting if you applied the same approach to very contemporary subjects. Everything will be neglected or forgotten at some point. No?
PAUL: Actually yes, I am a history buff. Probably about 65% of everything I read is history. And about the same percentage of what I watch is documentaries. But as to why I connect with neglected and forgotten artifacts, I think it's just something innate to my personality. I've got a really bad memory so I tend to hoard mementos, write everything down, record information etc. My personality type is probably a recorder actually. Much of that stuff ends up in my artwork as a kind of visual record. I write songs as well, but I have to record them otherwise I'd just forget them. Within days! But in fact, I do use contemporary subjects a lot as well.
MICHAEL: I think your work would look great large scale. How large are your canvases?
PAUL: My pieces range from the very small, just 13 x 18cm, up to the largest (so far), which is 72 x 105cm. For practical reasons, I have no plans to go much larger than that for the time being.
MICHAEL: When you're actually involved in the process of making art, what's going through your mind? Is the process emotional, intellectual or more spiritual?
PAUL: Hmm. It's difficult to answer that question without sounding a bit pretentious. So I'm going to say it's more of an intellectual (or, more precisely, an academic approach). I pretty much always know what I'm aiming for and although spontaneity is definitely part of the process, every artist has a formula they use to achieve the end result. With my work, that leaves little room for pure emotion, but that isn't to say that I'm not anticipating an emotional response to the end product. It's difficult to replicate the natural high you can get from successfully executing a piece of artwork, but for me the emotional connection I feel is usually with the end product and not the process itself. Which is not to say that I don't totally love that process or that I'm not totally absorbed in it at the time. I'm going to regret saying this; I rarely dance, but most of the dancing I do is when I'm painting!
MICHAEL: When did you first become aware of yourself as an artist? At what point did you say, "This is what I'm going to do or be"?
PAUL: Right when I first started school, my teachers used to tell me how good my drawings were. I didn't think they were, but they obviously saw something I didn't appreciate. But it was something I always loved doing. For the first four years of my secondary education, my schools didn't do art so it wasn't until I went to my final school (I went to eight in total!) that my art teacher took me under his wing and I started to take it more seriously and think of it as something I could do. Even then, he would have me make up canvasses and paint in oil when everyone else was painting in gouache on paper. He drove me really hard actually, but he also made me believe in myself. So it was probably then that I started seeing a future for myself as an artist. That's the short answer, believe it or not...
MICHAEL: How are you doing in terms of sales? I mean, is there anything that you think is keeping art from selling? What do you think needs changing?
PAUL: Sales have ticked over fairly steadily for the past few years, but at the same time, my last exhibition was 10 months ago now - something I really need to get out and rectify very soon. It's always tough making a living as an artist, but particularly these days, I think, with so many people feeling the pinch. I'm always trying to try new things to make my work more accessible without compromising it at all, but like every artist, I'd love to have a wealthy patron!
MICHAEL: Where are you exactly? What's it like there? Does the town or city where you live inspire your work at all or is your work independent of your surroundings?
PAUL: These days I live in Nice, in the south of France and while my immediate environment is not a major influence on my work, it definitely seeps in here and there. And certainly the people I know here have infiltrated my work on plenty of occasions. Most people associate this part of the world with its exceptional light, but I don't think that's had any impact at all.
MICHAEL: Finally Paul, What's the point of art? Why should people even care? Most people don't buy art so what does it all mean?
PAUL: I'm not really into getting into philosophical discussions about art. It's basically just another form of expression, like writing music or making up stories. Some people find it engaging, some people don't. Some people prefer sport and some people prefer ballet. If we were all the same it'd be a dull world. But in my experience, an awful lot more people would buy art if they could actually afford it. If I'd sold a piece every time someone said to me, “I'd buy a piece if I had the money,” I'd have a lot more money than I currently do.
MICHAEL: Haha! Absolutely. Thanks for the chat Paul.
Check out Paul and his work at http://www.mostlygreenstuff.com/.