Kevin Fleming's work hangs proudly in Tighnabruaich Gallery. The bright, bold colours are admired by every visitor. Fleming's pieces depict Scottish landscapes in a dramatic and stylised way. Fleming uses a recognisable pallet and intense brush strokes that have impressed many people across Scotland and further afield. I had a couple of questions for Kevin that I believed would help people have a deeper understanding of the processes behind his work, keep reading for his responses. There will be 20 new pieces from Kevin Fleming arriving in the gallery, available for purchase on the 1st of March. You can take a look at the pieces here.
How do you use your tools to create your work?
I use Palette Knives as they allow delivery of large masses of oil paint per stroke, which in turn allows for thick textured application and fast extensive spreading on the canvas. Painting in this way also allows wet-on-wet treatment which yields many interesting effects and colour blends live on the canvas. After using these techniques for some time, I just execute them automatically, it becomes like a language, a way of communicating.
What importance do you place on your environment while painting?
The physical execution of the work happens in my studio at home, but that’s like the tip of the iceberg. Paintings really begin when I am out and about, and a scene captivates me or a colour captures my attention. The sky, clouds, mixtures of light and time and season all instantly affect my imagination, get me excited to absorb and discover more about the landscape/scene. The longer I receptively remain in a place, the more I seem to discover. More impressions come to me both from the environment and my mind, perception, imagination. I take plenty of photos to record the scene. When I am connected to a scene the photos are like a memory which I use at home to access my thoughts, emotions, feelings, memories, ideas and impressions, and I dive right back into the experience and paint. I love being outside, it’s exciting being in the interplay of light, season, shade, mood of the environment, but after having been outside for a while, I also look forward to being in my studio where I can then re-discover my impressions in detail, really intensively feeling them as I paint, and the memories and feelings are transferred. The studio also gives me time and allows me to interpret the scene / photos in whichever way I choose, so it allows me a second freedom, next to the first freedom of being outside and receiving, absorbing, discovering the raw impressions.
Do you ever experiment with your style?
I have experimented a lot with different techniques, discovering how they work and what effects I can achieve, so that now I feel my current style allows me the greatest breadth and freedom to express the things I want to express. I also feel my style is quite experimental by nature, as every painting is almost like another experiment, since I don’t really know exactly how it’s going to turn out when I begin it.
Why do you choose to work with oil paints?
Because they are thick and have body and they have a versatile consistency, an ability to be solid yet fluid at the same time, and the longer drying time allows wet-on-wet application. Also, the colour is very rich, which allows for greater saturation and intensity. Overall, I find that because of these qualities of the paint, I can transfer and express very freely a broader range of impressions, which is very fulfilling.
Have you ever used any other materials? If so why did you disregard them?
As mentioned above, I have experimented with many materials during the process of developing my style, but oils allow me the greatest breadth and freedom for expressing what I want.
Why do you choose to work on a smaller scale?
When I paint I like to release spontaneous impressions, in a fast, intense burst. That feels to me the most honest way of painting fleeting impressions which by their nature are fleeting, intense and spontaneous. The smaller scale tends to suit this spontaneity.
How do you create atmosphere and emotion in your paintings?
Atmosphere and emotion are transferred into the painting automatically when I am being spontaneous, releasing. With this method, you really don’t need to hold on to the impression for too long at a time, its more to do with releasing the intensity than spending a lot of time making elaborate technical assessments. When I paint I engage with my emotions, there is a sense of discovery, exploration and curiosity, which all go into the emotional atmosphere of the painting. Also, and quite importantly, I enjoy painting very much, and I think that is what makes my work enjoyable, there is a freshness and immediacy which is enlivening, powerful, euphoric, stimulating.