Artist in Focus: Nick Vivian
Hi Nick! What is the question you encounter most when you tell someone you are an artist?
Are you successful?
My reply is usually that I started to paint as a child and I’m still enjoying it ……….
Why have you decided to limit your palette?
I do use the full spectrum in my work but I don’t have the need for all the shades of colour that manufacturers have conjured up. I also know a painting is more pleasing if it doesn’t have every colour under the sun in it.
Colour is important to me, so much so that I’m fairly sure that when I look at anything it’s the colour I see first……. or is that the same for everyone?
For me I really do see colour as light, ( or colour of light ) which of course it is, but it’s also an energy. The only visible form of energy we can see and so by limiting my palette to the spectrum I hope to transfer that energy to the viewer.
Even more weirdly I perceive an actual distance when comparing colours and this happens to correlate to the spectrum sequence.
So for me red is in my face and violet is a distant horizon. And by the same token I reach for my yellow tinted glasses whilst night driving head-on to those painful white HID car headlights that give me all 7 colours in one blast.
However because the of traditional techniques i employ, which include layering glazes, a multitude of derivatives are possible. I tend not to tint colours but much like a watercolourist I rely on the white of the support to come through the pigment. I don’t ever use black which of course is not a colour. Black is nothing,a space, a void. Far better to use blues and violets or red over green.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
There have been many favourable responses especially whenever I worked in the Royal Palaces of the Middle East, and would to be asked back to complete more works.
I have been very fortunate to have provided work to many VIP’s ( or celeb’s as they are now known)
but one such decided he didn’t want the commissioned piece after all and as it was so personally bespoke…… I was stuck with it.
Of course I kept the advance payment and today I have the satisfaction of switching TV channels, not seeing his movies, bearing his jokes or hearing him sing………. in his Scottish accent. (clue)
And on the other hand, when I was just starting out and having taken many weeks painting a series of wall panels at a property in Hampstead,………. the client paid me a 20% bonus!
Is being an artist a lonely job? Would you change that?
It’s never lonely whilst you are involved in the creative process but I do recommend working in a studio complex environment for lots of interaction.
Is there a point you know for sure your work is finished?
After the work has been facing the wall for a week and if you’re not impressed when you hold it to a mirror…….. it needs a little more attention.
The new perspective has a way of highlighting any imperfection at a glance.
When did you start to make art?
I started young…….I’ve not been able to do anything else since. In fact apart from my inspirational artistic grandmother, I also had a not so brilliant junior school maths teacher
who called me an idiot in front of my classmates, so to this day I can’t remember a number nearly as well as I do a colour.
What draws you to nature?
Nature is my natural choice……Nature is perfection……….. it gives us light, the air we breathe and the water we all need for life on this little planet.
What part of the working process do you enjoy most?
What I like best about the working process is that I continue to learn.
Learning to see and observe in a new light and hope through my work to convey the same emotions to the viewer.
How much planning do you do before you start on your work?
I will run though in my head what I would like to happen and for an abstract piece the only planning is to prepare a few colours and start direct to canvas.
As a colourist I don’t plan a lot, I especially don’t feel the need to complete a finished drawing except a thumbnail sketch as compositional preparation of a painting.