When we are celebrating everything Ashford has to offer, we can’t forget the bustling collection of artists and creatives in the town. For this edition we are putting the spotlight on local artist Alan Cracknell, 47, who has had his artwork published in TimeOut London and exhibited at the Strand Gallery, to find out about his early inspirations, part of his process, and his advice for budding artists.
Talking about his history as an artist Alan tells us: “I’ve always worked in the creative industry since the age of 16, my first job was in reprographics where most things in the early ’90s were manually done by hand. Once the technology was invented and computers made things quicker and easier, I became an image retoucher for a magazine company, this is where I really learned about Photoshop and colour correction. However, I first picked up a paintbrush in 2013 after a friend invited me to a roof top painting party in London.
“Like most artists, I have experimented with different materials such as oils, acrylics, resins and digital software. I don’t particularly have a style as I paint what I feel makes me happy, I can paint in an abstract style one day and then a completely different style the next, this keeps my creativity more interesting and fresher.”
Alan explains his inspiration comes from anything around him, from local wildlife, buildings, people, to anything that has interesting shapes, colours and patterns.
Can you talk to us about the process and how long it takes to complete a painting from start to finish on average?
“All artwork ideas have to start from somewhere, it could be from your own imagination or from a sketch or photograph. If painting from a photograph that I’ve taken myself I’ll use Photoshop to play around with the colour and composition first to see how it would look before painting on an actual canvas. This saves time and wastage of painting materials in the long run.
“If I’m painting a piece of abstract art I try not to overthink the process, I usually paint on the canvas with no idea of how it’s going to look at the end. It’s a layer process that just gets built up as you go, sometimes I can finish a piece in 1 hour, sometimes it takes a few hours sometimes over the course of several days, even weeks. It all depends if I feel it looks complete.”
Any advice for people just starting out in the art of painting?
“When starting out it can be quite daunting at first, but I truly believe that anyone can learn to draw or paint, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube or books if you want to learn at home in your spare time or you can take art classes if you have any locally to you. Remember, this is a learning process and things will take time, but you will improve as you learn new methods. The key is to never give up, keep going and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.”