James McLernon is a painter and sculptor, who loves to focus on the unknown and paranormal. His sculptures and paintings use both traditional and contemporary forms, which in turn reflects and creates his identity.
When did you start painting?
I’ve painted as far back as I remember, but really focused on it in Arizona. I attending college in the Southwest and it was the first time I had a space to create. We had a universal 24-hour studio and I loved spending late nights/ early mornings with some oils.
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Where do you find inspiration? What inspires you to create?
I have always been a creator, wanting to combine elements around me. You’ll find every set of notes or work documents I’ve ever handled to have creature doodles spanning the margins. I’d say I became an artist when I started to channel narratives that greatly interest me into my making practice. I find inspiration from folklore, books and stories dealing with the unknown and mankind’s depiction. Seeing how people and cultures view some of life’s elements, sparks my imagination to the fullest.
How has your work changed over the years?
I am always thinking of my next series or project because I am constantly engrossed in research. My work sometimes doesn’t go at the same pace as my curiosity so I’m left with a constantly evolving (however disjointed) practice. I’d say my work switches back from sculpture to painting as a main difference of change but it’s always down to my work space.
What was your ah-ha moment, or piece of work, that made you realize that you are an artist?
I have always considered myself an artist but I think it was other people having the same views that gave me my first ah-ha moment. My friends had come together and decided to open a cocktail bar in East London. They had commissioned me for a mural down the main steps. When it opened I was blown away by the fact people were taking pictures of the work. That was the moment when it clicked, seeing other people digging the work, enjoying it just as much as I had when I was making it.
Do you plan your pieces all out ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
Mostly I have one or two ideas I want to feature, and as long as they make it into the work, I’m happy. I am too impulsive to plan something out fully so I go on painting tangents. I feel like if you don’t have the clear image in your head when you start you won’t become detached if it doesn’t go to plan. You have to move with a piece, and if it goes somewhere else you should see where that is.
When is your most productive and creative time? Why?
I find that the time that I can pump quality hours into my practice is in the wee hours of the morning. As an artist, time is my most difficult struggle and I find that 11pm – 4am is perfect for me. Nothing is happening distraction-wise from work or social life so I can seal myself away and put my mind towards the art.
Do you play around with other creative mediums? If so, what? Other hobbies?
I love experimenting. Clay is a big favorite of mine. I’ve worked within mold-making, rubbers, textiles and currently 3D printing. I sometimes paint on things I find in yard sales and on the side of the road. Making furniture or other particle-use items in my style is pretty fun for me.
Tell us a little about your creative space. How do you keep everything organized? or are you one of those that is more creative in chaos? Any favorite organizing tips?
I am the least organized person, definitely a creative in Chaos type. As long as I don’t mix my oils with my acrylics I can stand any mess. The one element I need to have around me is color and heaps off it. I can get pretty packrat-ish when it comes to my creative space so I tend to have some oddities sprinkled around.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The best pieces of advice I’ve received have been from fellow artist, family and friends. It roughly boils down to “stay weird, don’t give up and everything will most likely be ok.” I meet tons of creative people and the main theme to live by is keep on going, keep on making and keep on striving.
Learn more about James and his art on his website.
Interview published August, 2017
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