Painting a glorious career
Laura Cartledge meets a seasoned artist who credits his career to a local gallery trail.
‘Tis the season for Christmas parties, present buying, mince pies and, it seems, artist’s open houses events.
While all are lovely, there can’t be many people who can claim any have changed their life.
However, that is true for Andy Waite, who charts his career as an artist by – and attributes it to – the Arundel Gallery Trail.
“That is how I got in to it really,” he recalls. “Even through I had a background in art, it was more graphic design I studied.
“They were looking around for people to get involved so I joined in and things blossomed from there.”
That was ‘around 28 years ago’, and over the next ‘three or four’ Andy reveals he was able to leave any work he was doing and just concentrate on the painting. “I have been very fortunate,” he says modestly. “I know too many people that do jobs they don’t like, I feel blessed and have been well supported.”
Despite it being clear natural talent has played a key role, that doesn’t mean Andy hasn’t experienced a steep learning curve.
“In the first year I thought what an I going to do,” he confesses. “I had no real experience of oil painting at that time so had a go with watercolours and still lifes, fruits and flowers, but in an abstract, splashy, effect.
“I remember I had to ask other artist friends how do I price these things?”
Andy went from being admittedly ‘amazed’ that he ‘sold a handful’ to establishing himself enough to continue throughout the 90s.
Then, at the turn of the millennium, things changed.
“I felt like I had got stuck in a way of working,” he confesses. “I could do it and it was popular but it didn’t move me anymore.
“Overnight, almost, I said I am not doing watercolours and I started experimenting with acrylic and oils.”
At first, this saw Andy working on paper, because he ‘couldn’t get on with canvas’, and shifting his focus to landscapes.
“It was a big change,” he explains. “And not everyone got what I was doing.”
Having evolved his style, year on year, Andy now deems it to be contemporary with a nod to the Romanticists.
“I go around Sussex a lot and sketch outside a lot, as well as expeditions further afield. A series came from Italy and then there was Morocco, and for a few years it was very close to home,” Andy reveals.
“They are all based on certain locations but they are more about the feeling of a place when I am there.”
This is something he is very aware of when it comes to naming the pieces.
“I don’t title them with things like ‘sunset over Arundel’,” he smiles. “It is more emotive, more poetic.”
Embracing your instincts, rather than relying on the more rigid elements, is something Andy is passionate about.
“I am very aware now that it is good to be open and that change is good,” he agrees. “I think any artist should want to be challenging themselves.
“My work is constantly evolving, people come back after a year and say it has really changed and I won’t have noticed as I am so close to it,” adds Andy. “I just do what I do and it is what it is.”
He acknowledges that this approach takes confidence, and can be hard for aspiring artists to adopt.
“It is just about not being afraid to experiment and let it happen rather than thinking too hard, you have to let go,” he enthuses. “It is a strange contradiction, you are conscious about having to let go.
“I have met a lot of people that struggle with it as they, often, have been taught to do things in a certain way,” explains Andy. “Even now I find myself slipping into being more careful than I would like.”
A desire to continue pushing boundaries and embrace new challenges has seen Andy turn to film making.
And, as it allows him to combine music with poetry and his paintings, the format is something he is keen to explore more.
As a result his involvement in this year’s open houses in Arundel is yet to be confirmed, however, Andy is aware his own journey is proof visitors could leave with more than things to decorate their homes or give to others.
“It really was a springboard for my career as an artist,” he says. “Without that I don’t know if I like I would have made it.”
For more information, visit www.andywaite.net
October 28, 2016 Culture and Events