“There’s a certain mystery where the viewer fills in the spaces and starts creating their own narrative through abstract elements.”
By Tatty Martin | 15 Jun 2022
Fletcher Sibthorp has recently joined Rise Art, bringing his portfolio of expressive and figurative paintings to the platform. Fletcher is a portrait artist, taking inspiration from the style and processes of traditional oil painting, adding in abstract motifs, and executing each painting in his signature earthy palette.
We spoke to Fletcher about the evolution of his painting, the interplay between representation and abstraction, and why giving each work a ‘multi-faceted feel’ is critical to his practice.
How would you describe your style of painting?
My painting style is a mix of traditional oil painting techniques mixed with more expressive serendipitous abstract mark-making and textures.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind your practice
I’m inspired by the contrast between the magic of creating the 3D dimensional visual trick, and using expressive abstract shapes and textures. There’s a certain mystery where the viewer fills in the spaces and starts creating their own narrative through the abstract elements. I like the idea of the ‘other worldly’ using classical geometry to create a naturalistic ideal – a classical asymmetry in my figures. Nostalgia and faded weathered photos are also wonderful objects of fascination – that time-worn wabi-sabi sensibility.
How do you go about choosing the subjects for your paintings?
It’s hard to pin down but it’s just a particular look that draws me in. It is also a particular pose and the way the light falls that adds to the subject. I can take hundreds of photos and only a couple have the potential to move forward to a painting. I have a sketchbook of ideas, some of which will find their way out and others I may come back to or not.
What’s an average day like in your studio?
I would say that 50% of my time is spent on other things that aren’t painting – Instagram posts, emails, packing art, ordering materials, organising references etc. I try to paint in the morning for at least four hours and if I need to do the other stuff I do that in the afternoon. The painting time can also extend to several days whilst I’m working on a big piece and the other stuff is pushed to one side.
How has your artistic style changed and evolved?
The work has become harder to complete as the abstract elements create more ambiguity, making the artwork harder to resolve. But the newer paintings that balance the abstract with the representational feel more multi-faceted than the more representational, for whatever reason. This multi-faceted feeling I would like to explore more, as it engages the viewer on a more personal level – the abstract almost invites them to express and add their own personality and experiences to become part of the painting.
Physically the size has also increased and I’ve extended the medium I use, allowing more scope for abstract textures and expressive-ness. Larger pieces definitely hold more presence.
Which artists influence you most?
So many artists, too many to single out a handful. Earlier I was influenced heavily by the English art movement of the 50/60s like Bacon, Uglow, Auerbach and Hockney. Then it expanded to The Austrian Successionists and Pre-Raphaelites and the American realists like Desiderio and Andrew Wyeth… Oh, and Hammershoi!
I find listening to certain music to be very inspiring and affect the mood of the artworks. My favourites are A Winged Victory of the Sullen, Joep Beving and Max Richter. Artistically, I enjoy work where the colour is pared down, beautiful light and has a particular something that makes it outer-worldly.
Who are some Rise Art artists with work you’re enjoying at the moment?
Nick Offer, Zin Lim, Daisy Cook, Nicole Rose, Chowwai Cheung and Peter Roux all do great work.
Are you currently working on any exciting new projects?
I’m working on a series I’m titling Appricity – this is an old, out-of-use word which means, the first morning light that falls on your face. I’m combining this with breezy hair flow. I love the narrative and nostalgic feeling this combination creates. I like the idea of hair forming shapes in the breeze and almost writing letterforms and shapes in the sky. Evocative of dream-like scenes and a sense of freedom, being part of the natural order. Who hasn’t been on top of an exposed hill and felt that feeling as the wind as it whips around you!