20 Questions to Tom Palin (www.tompalin.co.uk)
Interview: August 2015
1: Who are you?
2: What is your background?
I studied Fine Art in Liverpool and Art History in Manchester. For the past 19 years I’ve worked from studios in Birkenhead, St. Helens, Liverpool, Wallasey and Leeds. I am currently undertaking a PhD at the Royal College of Art.
3: Where were you born?
Birkenhead, Wirral, Merseyside.
4: Explain your work in up to 40 words.
My paintings are mostly landscapes, and Romantic. I like that which is implied, or which might be the case. Painting is as an escape, though the paint itself brings me back. I alternate between where I am and somewhere else.
5: How has your practice changed over time?
I’ve become more interested in the relationship between the paint and the image. I’m happier working with a more fluid paint, playing with wet-in-wet techniques. I’m more reluctant to force a picture upon a painting. I am a little more patient these days.
6: Do you have a favourite medium to work in?
Oil paint, as it can take on so many guises and is rather delicious.
7: Do you pursue any themes? If so what?
I’m interested in looking through or past or across things – of building places made of paint that I can inhabit as well as look at, and which never quite seem all there. I love the stillness of painting, it permits me do the moving.
8: What other jobs have you done/do you do other than being an artist?
As a student I stacked shelves, manned tills, filled envelopes and bagged potatoes and sprouts. I’ve worked as an arts educator for the past 16 years.
9: What research do you do for your art?
I consider other people’s paintings. I watch films, listen to music, talk to others, and myself, and reflect on all of the above. I also take lots of snaps, though I rarely reference them directly. I write a bit, read a lot and look even more. The practise is the practice.
10: What makes you angry?
Unfairness, cruelty and a lack of compassion.
11: What is your favourite colour?
I like various types of blue-green, and perhaps a warm yellow also. In painting I tend to work with tertiaries and greyed colours, towards the darker end of the palette.
12: What is your favourite piece that you have produced?
Hot lips is my most successful attempt at a form of portraiture. I find it difficult to assess current works. There are a number of small paintings from the late 1990 and early 2000s that I like, including The Aqueduct and A Venetian Order. Of recent years, perhaps The Hill.
13: What music/album are you currently listening to?
Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, B.B. King and Leontyne Price. I have been falling asleep to the Prelude from Wager’s Tristan and Isolde. Most recent Album: Coming from Reality by Rodriguez.
14: What makes you happy?
To maintain a balance between connectedness and freedom.
15: What are your favourite films?
Spartacus, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, almost any Film Noir from the 1940s and 1950s, the great Westerns, usually starring John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, and Early Hammer Horror.
16: Favourite place?
I like Snowdonia, for its unchanging changeability. I like Whitby, especially in winter. Prague is a magical city, but sad too.
17: One or more artists you like?
For different reasons: Brueghel, Rembrandt, Constable, Ingres, Gauguin and Utrillo.
18: What is your favourite word?
19: Professionally what is your goal?
To keep painting.
20: What would your dream commission be?
To have assisted Michelangelo on the Sistine ceiling, though I’m scared of heights.