Over the last few years I’ve forged a satellite practice from my studio by painting murals live in front of an audience – transforming mural painting into a performance event. In my experience, people are fascinated by watching imagery being painted in front of their eyes, to some it seems almost like magic.
Artists typically show completed work in formal galleries but to my mind, finished artwork can lose some of its vitality. A blank canvas being transformed has limitless potential when the artist is still attached. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that galleries and morgues have a similar presentation.
I’ve painted murals in diverse venues such as art festivals, night clubs, department store windows, music venues and during historical reenactments. These painting events generate additional footfall for the venues as well as creating a unique ambience and visual excitement.
The content of my paintings tends to be very Scottish so I typically wear a leather kilt, a tweed waistcoat emblazoned with a unicorn (the Scottish national animal) and a red top hat which has ringmaster or mad hatter connotations. My intention is that this outlandish attire breaks down barriers and means people can take pictures or feel free to talk to me as though I am a cartoon character. The point is to become as accessible as possible on all levels – pictorially and personally. The unique pressures of these live painting events generate an intensity of execution that has stimulated the generation of artwork that simply would not exist if I did not have this practice. Once I put the hat on, I have to paint.
I frequently make time lapse videos of these live mural events – a few are included here: