Have you always been creative and what’s the earliest work you can remember creating?
I have always drawn, painted and made things. As a kid I was constantly switching from one making activity to anther! We didn't have a TV when I was young and I would happily draw all day, I particularly remember drawing lots of intricate maps with tiny figures on
What's your studio like and how do you keep organised?
I have three studios, on for storing props, another for life drawing and the third for my own personal work. In my own studio I have floor-to-ceiling shelves full of books and curiosities and a battered chez lounge where friends sit when they come for coffee. All of my furniture can be moved around so that I can re-arrange the studio to suit my latest project so the space is constantly in flux, on one day immaculate and sparse so I can pace out new ideas for books, and on another cluttered with tables of paints and easels full of new work. I like to write lists and make diagrams to structure my thoughts, so the main wall often becomes a map of the current ideas jangling around my head.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I love books, and have an ever-growing collection of artists' monographs books about drawing, so my books are always the first place I turn; I also like to sift through old sketchbooks, re-visiting forgotten ideas and observations. Mainly I take inspiration from the people around me; I am lucky to meet lots of people through my teaching and I am surrounded by an incredibly inspiring community of friends and colleagues.
Whats in your pencil case / camera bag?
I have an old leather busmans satchel with an open top that I carry around with me that has two sketchbooks, John Ruskin's 'Elements of Drawing' and a tin of pencils in it. That's all I need for the day!
Any tips for someone suffering from creative block?
To get out of your own head, and to do something new and to play. If you're agonising over a lack of ideas you are often looking inwards in a self critical way. Firstly take the pressure off and go somewhere different; go out for a walk to somewhere unfamiliar or to an art exhibition you haven't seen before. Go just to enjoy it, to clear your head. And then do something playful; sketch or write about the things you see around you, purely for the pleasure of doing it. Be curious, look around, notice things you don't normally notice. Perhaps you'll be inspired, perhaps not; either way it is a good re-set button to help clear your thoughts.
Do you do any other crafts and what are your hobbies?
I love to make things and often make props for the Drawing Circus, often working in wood. Im a pretty poor carpenter, but I find it very satisfying to build things. I also love the outdoors, I enjoy rock climbing when I can do it, and swimming in the sea.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
This month is the international Big Draw; an initiative that encourages everybody to take up and enjoy drawing. If you have ever wanted to take up drawing but have to felt nervous to begin, well now is as good a time as any!