Stephen Simpson was born in 1986 in Stockton-On-Tees.
My parents where in the hospitality trade so I spent all my early childhood and most of my teen years living in Hotels & Restaurants. These hotels where often in the sticks and isolated. As a way to keep their son entertained my parents would often give me things to draw onto and colour in. They would normally find Menu’s with my drawings on. As I grew into my teens I was encouraged to follow my creative passion and at the age of 13 my parents backed my decision to study more creative GCSE’s so I opted to study Art, Graphic Design and Design Technology, by doing this it meant that I was losing an academic subject such as History or Geography. I remember teachers trying to change my mind however my choice with my parents backing proved to be the right decision as these were the subjects I excelled in.
College life was short and sweet; it opened my eyes to different styles & techniques. Practicing Photography using an SLR camera gave me key skills of identifying composition and the effects of light and dark. I depend heavily on these skills in my work and am thankful for everything I was taught. Once I gained my three A-Levels I opted to move to Leeds where I attended University to study Interior Architecture & Design. At the time I was thinking of my future and I seen this as a way to obtain a good career. During my time at University I continued to paint in my spare time experimenting with different methods. I found the University’s way of working to be a bit regimented which limited my creative freedom. There were times when I questioned if this was the right avenue for me to go down. After a lot of blood, sweat and Auto-Cad plans I graduated with my BA (hons) to the delight of my friends and family. For me however I still felt an empty feeling that there was something else I needed to do to satisfy my hunger for creativity. It was at this time I decided to concentrate all my efforts on painting and over the years spent my time practicing and perfecting my painting style. It was this sequence of events which led me to where I am today.
I’m very fortunate to live in the North East of England as there are so many places to draw inspiration from. The North East coastline is a good place for me to reflect and clear my mind to allow the ideas to flow; often a walk along the beach front will throw up a few treats in the shape of rock pools. The way the half submerged rocks catch and reflect the light in such an organic way gives me invaluable inspiration. I’ll often photograph anything I see which I think may help me, not to ‘draw’ from but more as a way of documenting ideas. I have a notice board in my studio which is used as a way for me to be reminded; there could be just simple words on it such as ‘Explosion’ which will kick start an idea. My notice board is ever changing and to an onlooker will look like an unorganised mess! Often the piece I create will not resemble my initial idea as the nature of my work is so organic in form it sometimes takes a life of its own.
The colours and texture I choose to use are inspired by all of natures Elements. Looking at the glowing embers of a fire or a storm at sea will make something just ‘click’ and ill be ready to get into the studio. Its natures sheer power which I strive to capture in my work. Sometimes the results will be soft and calm and others much more dramatic which all adds to the uniqueness and emphasises that every piece is totally individual. Each of my paintings have a Light source which gives them life, much like real life, without light there would be no life. I paint dark to create light, I look a lot at Turner’s work and the way he manages to give the illusion of light in his paintings.
Before starting a painting I sometimes draw a small thumbnail sketch, this mainly consists of where my light source is going to be positioned to give a pleasing composition. I then build up the pieces in a number of layers of relief texture and oil paint glazes. To move the paint around I use a combination of palette knife, brush and old rags to create earthy effects. By using heavy texture my work has an almost sculptural quality with a tactile surface. The combination of rough and smooth mediums coinciding with ever changing light creates the illusion of movement in the pieces. As a finishing touch I add a high gloss coat which makes my work dazzle in the light and look almost glass like.
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