My work, to me, always revolves around feelings of loss, mourning, and isolation. It always deals with the past, with memories. It is always looking back. This is true for my new body of work even more so than ever, as I’m returning to mediums I have abandoned a long time ago, and the stories and emotions tied to them are coming back to me as well.
Do you remember that song you played on endless repeat after having your heart broken? The last movie you went to see together before your loved one’s passed? The place you were hiding at when the world came crashing down on you, and what stirs inside you when you revisit those places?
I am a 33 years old traditional painter, curator, and founder of the PRISMA Collective.
I have shown at galleries around the United States, such as Modern Eden, Spoke Art, Last Rites, Antler PDX, and Arch Enemy Arts. My work has been featured on the blogs of Juxtapoz, BOOOOOOOM, Supersonic Art, and Beautiful Decay, as well as in the print magazines of dpi and American Art Collector.
On Instagram—my main social media account—I get a lot of questions about my work. Many of these questions are concerned with materials and my painting process, and often very specific about how I achieve a particular result in a particular medium. I love answering your questions but sometimes, comments on a social network offer a space too limited to talk about art in depth, so I will try and answer as much as I can on this site to give you a better idea of how and what I create.
If you’re curious about something I haven’t answered on here, don’t hesitate to email me.
What are your favourite materials to work with? And which brands can you recommend?
There is hardly a medium I haven’t worked with at some point in my life (besides pastel) but my favourites are water-based mediums, like ink, gouache, or acrylic washes. I’ve always wanted to be an oil painter because of the very smooth and realistic results you can achieve with oil but the medium never clicked with me the way water-based mediums do. I feel like my delicate style and sensitive subjects resonate more with a medium that is just as delicate, and I guess I enjoy the thrill of never being able to control washes 100% but instead, letting the water do its thing. That sort of ebb and flow seems more in line with me and my personality.
The materials / brands I work or have worked with you’ll find in the list below.
- Liquitex, Golden, and Winsor & Newton acrylic paints, all of them heavy body diluted to a thin wash
- Liquitex Ink! in Carbon Black, which is lovely for black and white paintings and underpaintings
- Turner Acryl Gouache
- Winsor & Newton Artisan water-mixable oil paints
- Prismacolor and Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencil
- I can’t say that I have a preferred brand for regular pencils / graphite. Mine are Faber-Castell, Lyra, and Derwent but I’ve got some cheap ones as well.
- Everything Arches. I love their art board, which they no longer sell in my country, so I’m using their watercolour paper instead. Arches Aquarelle HP 300 or (better) 640gsm. Their oil painting paper is great too.
- Fabriano Artistico HP 640gsm if the Arches is sold out. Fabriano Designo 5 is also a lovely drawing paper.
- Cradled wood panel from my local art store. Needs to be sanded down and gessoed before use.
- Escoda Versàtil. They’re a synthetic Kolinsky fibre and rather pricy but just like the name says, they’re extremely versatile and can be used with many different kinds of mediums.
What is your working process? Can you describe your technique?
As I mentioned above, there is hardly any medium I haven’t worked with, and with that variety of mediums also comes a great variety of techniques, which makes it impossible for me to offer step by step walkthroughs for each piece I’ve ever created.
Generally, I can say that whenever I use a water-based medium, I will often start with a refined underdrawing that I turn into a greyscale underpainting to then go over with colour glazes, while with oil paint, I usually pre-mix all the colours and work in only one or two layers instead of a billion with washes.
My working process is always long-winded and probably a lot more complicated than it would have to be. I’m a careful and slow painter, and I usually create depth and delicacy by layering wash over wash and glaze over glaze—often dozens of them with very subtle effects.
What is your artistic background? Have you been to art school?
While I’ve applied to art schools several times when I was younger, I never got accepted and thus remain a self-taught artist. I hear from many of my friends and colleagues who have been to art school that everything they do and know today—their own personal style, themes, and technique—is something that school never taught them but they had to discover and figure these things out on their own, so I guess being self-taught isn’t as much of a disadvantage as one might think.
Where do you draw inspiration from, and what are the themes your work is concerned with?
I have no source of inspiration other than my life and my memories. My youth and young adulthood were overshadowed by sickness, alienation, and anxiety. I don’t actually remember a time without chronic disease and pain, which have radically altered and shaped my personality and the way I perceive and interact with the world around me today.
My work is concerned with those themes in the sense that it longs for youth and a physical and mental integrity, the ability to go back in time, and a yearning for a past that should have been but never was. There’s nostalgia and heartache in everything that I do, and a constant battle between the acceptance of what is and the desire for what ought to be.
Who is the model you seem to be painting exclusively these days? How long have you been working together?
The boy I’m working with is Mikko Puttonen, a Finnish blogger and photographer based in London. We got to know each other about two years ago and he’s become the face to my thoughts and emotions.
I strongly believe in the long-term artist / muse relationship, it is something that has fascinated me ever since I started creating, and I always seek that one ideal person to draw inspiration from instead of going from one random model to the next. I need to understand and to feel someone in order to trigger a certain set of emotions inside of me, to associate someone with a particular mood and a story that seems to be intertwined with my own. A muse is a curious thing in that it evokes a strange kind of desire unlike anything you’ll ever feel outside your artist reality—it’s a constant back and forth, an alternation of intimacy and withdrawal for me.
What kind of advice would you give a young artist? What are some of the greatest challenges and struggles being a creative professional?
The creative business—whether it is fine art, music, fashion, film—is a tough industry. I don’t think people survive in this business for long if they aren’t driven by something greater than the desire for success or money. There is very little success and money in our business but the majority of us are having a hard time trying to make a living from art, working long hours, seven days a week, for a pretty small income.
For me, art has never been something that I chose—it was the only option I had, the only thing I’m good at, the only thing I can and want to do in my life. There’s an urge that keeps me going, that forces me to create even when I’m struggling with the world around me, and it’s that force and that urge you will need to keep going. It’s the kind of advice that isn’t meant to demotivate but the hard truth of what awaits artists who rely on fine art as their sole income.
Networking will help, getting in touch with fellow painters and other likeminded creatives, as well as a very thick skin and the self-confidence of a megalomaniac.
If you’d like to inquire about my work, invite me to shows or interviews, or talk about commissions or collaborations, please fill out the contact form and I’ll be in touch as soon as possible.
Thank you for your support!