In the studio with Chris Cox

What is your favourite medium and why?

I love oils, acrylic, watercolour and ink for different reasons... If I had to choose one overall it would have to be Acrylic. All mediums have advantages and disadvantages.
Acrylic works best for me in with respect to my style and genre. Whether I am doing black and whites or colour I find it allows me to complete each stage in the work in a timely manner, so I can move onto the next step relatively quickly. Acrylic is quick drying when compared to oils, but not as fast as watercolours, so an area that requires some extra attention can be managed without it being a total disaster. Another big plus is it is water soluble and cleaning your equipment is far easier than oils which require turpentine.
For anyone learning, just make sure when using Acrylic you allow for changes in the colour when mixed to drying of at least one shade darker.

What themes do you explore in your work?

Having a theme is very important and I devote a large proportion of time thinking about what I am trying to achieve with each new work. As I discuss briefly in my bio and artist statement, my intention is to not only produce aesthetically pleasing work, but work that others can relate to in everyday life. You will find many of my pieces are abstract portraits because I try to focus my efforts on reflecting the inhabitants of work and home space. Therefore the themes that I like to explore relate to those moments in life that offer the simple pleasures. In my view, this is especially important because an artwork is something that is going to be on your wall potentially a long time, so why not have a piece that has meaning or says something about you or your everyday life. There are a number of themes that can be seen from my pieces that are designed to evoke emotion on this subject. The use of technology such as the mobile phone is a good example of everday moments and it is a big part of all our lives in today’s society and culture. ‘Lovers Selfie’, ‘Mobile Meditation’ and ‘My Nature’ are all relevant examples of this theme.

What should people know about your art that they can’t tell from looking at it?

A tough question, but I think sometimes people can be fooled by the simplicity of abstracts. In Fact, having been a former painter of realism and impressionism this genre and style can be very complex and very difficult to achieve the right balance in form and design. I love it because of the great challenges it poses from design right through to completion. When viewing pieces such as the ‘Lovers Selfie’ series people may be surprised to learn that it took almost a week in the design phase before I was ready to put brush to paper. Some other works have taken much longer, so it is important to remember that design before execution can take longer than many people may anticipate.

From another point of view, it is also worth noting that sometimes there is a message and greater meaning in a piece that may be overlooked or undervalued. By that, I mean that many times it’s the simple things in life that give us great pleasure, but do we always recognise it? Whether it is having a coffee at the local Cafe ( Cafe Lover, Coffee Lovers ) or taking a selfie with a loved one ( Lovers Selfie V2, V3) these moments are precious and valuable enough to inspire me to create art that not only looks great, but means something to the collector.

If you have to choose one artist whose work inspires you, who would it be?

Leonardo da Vinci for his figurative masterpieces with great meaning and vision.

Tell us about your studio. Location, clean, cluttered, big, small, etc?

My sudio is located in Goulburn in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, Australia, which is about 60 km north of the capital Canberra, ACT. I keep a very clean, uncluttered policy in my studio because I like to keep control of my projects at all times. I find that things can easily get out of hand, so keeping an ordered studio is important to be able to spend most of your time focusing on what’s most important. The studio is an extension of my home and has about 20 m2 of space for the equipment I need to make things easier. For example, My drawing table is a must and has angle adjustment so I can use it flat as a desk or elevate the top to around 50 degrees making it the core ingredient in my studio. My space also includes a packing bench which has proven invaluable when dispatching collectors orders.

Do you have any pre-work ritual that puts you in the right mindset to create art?

Usually a cup of Coffee, as I am a ‘Coffee Lover’ myself. Sorry for the plug.

Do you prefer to work with music or in silence?

I generally like to work in silence when I am designing, but I often listen to music when I am painting.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love spending time with my partner Karen and my two teenage children Adam and Hayley. I love to play tennis and regularly play in a competition so I can’t get too lazy and forget to give my body the exercise it needs. Another hobby of mine is astronomy and I have a large 8”reflector telescope to stargaze once in a while. You might see a link with my ‘Star Sign’ series.

What is your favourite colour?

Blue without a doubt!

What do you collect?

I am an Art collector myself and I have some special artworks in my home that have meaning to me personally and from an aesthetic view. I also love to collect home décor ornaments that liven up my homes interior design. I think I might be a frustrated interior designer as well!

Are there specific messages within your work?

Although I have described some themes I use in my work, the main message that I want to convey in all my work is that there is great beauty in simplicity and just being yourself . There are other more specific messages such as my work, ‘Transcendence’ where I illustrate the power of dreaming, but they are an extension of the general message of simply being yourself and celebrating who you are as a person.

What excites and inspires you as an artist?

The everyday moments inspire me, but I am also very influenced by other artists and their creativity. I am inspired by people, relationships, nature and the world as a whole and how we relate within those environments. To me, this is exciting and gives me a constant source of inspiration with the creation of new work.

What does your creative process entail?

This is a real mixed bag of thoughts and ideas influenced by my own interactions with people and the surrounding environment, as well as surfing the internet. I like to view other artists interpretation of a theme and draw upon some of those ideas and apply them to my own work in my own way. The quickest way to achieve this is via the internet, but I also learn a lot from Gallery’s and exhibitions. Once the ideas have been finalised, its a matter of coming up with a design that compliments those ideas. I use my PC to construct shapes and alter forms so I can get an idea of the overall look of a piece and then I will do a freehand sketch on paper making alterations as I go. Once I have a design pretty close I will then photograph it and upload it to a file on my PC where I can play around with it and see what it might look like on a wall. From there, if I am satisfied that it meets all the criteria I will go on to do a light pencil sketch on paper prior to using Acrylic with a brush and pen.

What do you enjoy most about painting?

I love the freedom of expression painting provides me. You can always relax and be yourself with a brush and you become the master of your own destiny. It holds a power that can transport me to another dimension. It's very addictive and so hard to stop once you have started. That's why its important to know when the work is done and not to overwork a painting, later regretting it. I've learned to overcome this problem by working on several different designs in advance so I always look forward to the next project where I can get my brush out again!

How do you know when an artwork is completed?

I have to learn when enough is enough and sometimes that is a hard lessen to learn. I say this because my studio is full of examples where I have overworked an artwork, so its important to know when you have done all you can and its finished or it isn't released! I am sure this is an issue for many artists. The problem is that you can be your own worst enemy at times and you always have to come back to reality. Others opinions in this area can be the most helpful, because the way you look at a piece maybe entirely different to someone else. Therefore a combination of your own feelings and another's point of view is a good way to help find the way to the finish line. For me, it’s an examination of: - The design is aesthetically pleasing - The theme and message are clear - The finish is quality - Others opinions on the above

What advice do you have for artists who are starting out?

The most important piece of advice is to be patient and learn to appreciate your own work fully. This will give you the confidence to proceed to the next levels involved in marketing and selling your art if that is what your goal is. It is particularly important to believe in yourself and move away from a feeling that your work may not be good enough, as It is very easy to fall into this trap when first starting. Take some time to research the market as a whole and ask others for their opinion or their expertise. If you need to make changes to what you are doing, make them and don’t be afraid. Sometimes you need to test what works and what doesn’t, so experiment with styles, mediums and genre’s until you are comfortable in your own skin.

Do you have any planned upcoming exhibitions?

I am planning to exhibit in the Goulburn Workers Club Art Exhibition held in November 2019, but 2020 will be the year I enter a few more exhibitions further a field to broaden my base.


Head over to Chris's portfolio page to browse and buy by Chris Cox.