News > 6 September 2016

Interview With The Artist: Kit Johns

Here at Mayne Gallery, we love finding and showcasing emerging artists, displaying their talents for all to see. Kit Johns is one such artist and we're proud to say that we currently have a lot of his work exhibited on our website. Have a browse - and enjoy reading this interview with Kit himself, finding out all about his passions, inspirations and his favourite artists. Plus get his top picks of what to see and do while looking for things to do in Devon and Cornwall.

Mayne Gallery (MG): When did you first become interested in art and painting?

Kit Johns (KJ): Thanks to my mum I was always encouraged to be creative from a very early age in my childhood, so I feel like I have been painting for a very long time already. I have always been interested in creativity in one form or another for as long as I can remember.

MG: How long did it take you to find your medium? Did you do a lot of experimenting?

KJ: Often the mixing process before I start a painting can feel like a bit of a science experimentation. It has taken many years to really find the mediums that are my favourite. I am constantly experimenting and finding new techniques. My use of authentic vintage maps as the canvas for each painting was born from random experimentation and is now a key aspect of most of my work. I love trying new mediums and combining them with existing methods, pushing the boundaries of the technical rules of what painting materials can do and are supposed to do.

MG: What appeals to you most about mixed media?

KJ: For me, mixed media is just another part of the painting process. I like that it allows constant experimentation and therefore there is never a final winning formula. It allows you to always be able to develop the conceptual aspects within the work, not just the aesthetics.

MG: Tell us more about your driftwood series.

KJ: The driftwood pieces sometimes accompany the larger works. Found on local beaches after the big storms, each piece is so unique which is what I like about them.

MG: Do you still have the first thing you ever painted? What was it?

KJ: I think my mum still has stored away safely the first thing I ever painted that was recognisable as a something! I think it was a line drawing of a snail!

MG: What inspires you particularly?

KJ: I draw influences from many places, whether it is when I am out and about exploring the local coastline, or visiting the Tate and the Louvre. I see inspiration and motivation as the same thing, and I love to just constantly be creative.

MG: Which artists do you most admire and why?

KJ: My admiration for artists spans from Turner, to Basquiat, and many in between. I love Turner's more ambiguous paintings, the use of colour and mark making to create light are mesmerising within them, especially in the flesh. Jean-Michel Basquiat is another of my favourite artists - the ability to draw in from your surroundings and express it in such a raw way is inspiring to me. These kind of artists play a role of creative inspiration, and act as a tool of motivation to continue my own individual artistic practice.

MG: How would you describe your style in five words?

Unrefined, Raw, Expressive, Energetic and Resonating.

MG: Do you always carry a sketchbook around with you?

KJ: I always try and capture source material. I tend not to do any preliminary drawings/paintings for any paintings, however, as I like the evolution and working development of the painting to show and come through within the final piece.

MG: Do you have a particular artistic process or do you simply go with the flow?

KJ: I enjoy going with the flow, I think to develop and make good art you need to have this mind set.

MG: What’s your studio like?

KJ: Messy! A hive of planned intentional chaos. The photos are good proof.

MG: What do you love most about country life?

KJ: It always sounds like a bit of a cliche but the peacefulness and tranquility is so valuable!

MG: What would you recommend people see and do on holiday in Cornwall?

KJ: Explore - there is so much to see and do, be outdoors as much as possible whether it is raining or shining as there is so many amazing locations. I have been to places like Australia and Thailand, but some of the spots in the south-west are still top of my list. I love the sea, so I would recommend either be in the sea or be at sea!

MG: Any particular hidden gems you could recommend?

KJ: I would call the winter months a hidden gem, there is something so invigorating when you are out on the coastline in stormier weather. You can see this energy and rawness of the waves translate within my work.

MG: Where’s your favourite place in Devon and why? Any hints and tips for holidaymakers you can share?

KJ: I enjoy the South Devon coastline, I spent quite a bit of my childhood visiting Plymouth and the surrounding area. Although I currently live in Cornwall, I enjoy visiting Devon as the coastline is slightly different, especially the interesting estuaries. The windy roads are exactly the same though! My tip would be to continue to explore, we all have our favourite beaches but it’s always good to discover a new favourite beach!

MG: What have you painted in Devon that you’re especially proud of?

KJ: I am really pleased with my latest body of work that features the authentic vintage maps of South Devon. The energy and rawness of the seas painted within them really encapsulate what the south-west coastline is like.

MG: What else inspires you about Devon that you’re looking to get down on canvas?

KJ: I am enjoying continuing to develop and experiment with the vintage maps of Devon, creating a unique canvas for each painting. It is my intention for one of my next plein-air painting videos to be at Bantham beach, with a few other ideas also in the pipeline. 

Mayne Gallery, 14 Fore Street, Kingsbridge, South Devon, TQ7 1NY ...or call us on 01548 853 848