Simon M Smith's works are the epitome of springtime splendour. Through a delicate layering of recycled dressmaking patterns, acrylic paint and hand-drawn motifs, he captures fragmented florals with a contemporary edge. Read on to discover how he creates his canvases, and hear all about his inspirations and influences.
Tell us about the process you use to create your work & the inspirations behind it?
I work in a studio at the end of a productive garden. I make a lot of drawings of flowers and leaves on tissue paper from unwanted dress patterns using a fine-nibbed permanent marker. Once I have primed the canvas, I start pasting tissue paper onto the surface. I often use the printed lines found on the dress patterns to give structure to my work: to make shapes, and build some sort of framework for other elements to play off. Sometimes I leave words and numbers on the dress patterns as part of the composition.
I use acrylic paint, primarily because it dries quickly. I make changes rapidly when I am working, particularly in the early stages of a painting, and build my pictures in layers of tissue and paint. It’s important, therefore, to use materials that PVA glue will adhere to well.
As the painting progresses, I draw and redraw shapes on the canvas, add new drawn images on tissue paper, and make continual adjustments. I have a simple, workmanlike approach to painting: when I go in the studio I do what I can see needs doing. This leads me on to the next stage, and that’s how I progress.
I don’t have a predetermined goal when I start a work. I only know that a painting is finished when it seems that there is nothing left to do: the painting has found its own reason for existing, and makes sense according to its own internal logic.
What was the first artwork you ever made? Can you remember?
I can’t remember what it was of, but I recall going to see a painting of mine in an exhibition of children’s artwork when I was quite small. Did they really hang it beneath a table? That’s how I remember it…
Who are your favourite artists?
I’ve studied the work of a lot of artists. I love looking at paintings, and I gain inspiration from most people’s work. My favourite painting is still Die Hülsenbeckschen Kinder by Philipp Otto Runge in the Hamburger Kunsthalle.
What do you love most about art & making art? What do you hate most about it?
Making art is still a mystery to me. I like to take myself by surprise and I like finding out what else I can do. Most importantly, I think making paintings allows me the opportunity to consider and give form to experiences that are very difficult to explain in words; it’s a way of discovering what I really think, and how I feel about the things around me.
What has been the greatest impact on you as an artist to date?
I have come to learn that you make art because you have to; if you turn up and do the work things will get done.
What’s playing in your studio right now?
I listen to a lot of music when I’m working – anything from Benjamin Britten to Captain Beefheart. Right now I’m particularly enjoying an album called Rabbit Eclipse by the Polish band Księżyc. It's difficult to describe and impossible to categorise, it’s the sort of music that reminds you there are no rules: everything is possible, everything is waiting to be done over again, but differently this time, because you’ve changed and the world has changed too.
What’s the most important object in your studio?
My studio is at the end of the garden – it’s a little world of its own. I can turn the music up loud, so my stereo’s pretty essential, but the most important thing I find in my studio is the time and space to paint.