3DTotal:How long on average does it take to produce one painting. From concept to final piece? Matt:That varies quite a bit, but I always like to finish a painting as quickly as possible so the idea stays fresh. If it’s being worked on for several days, I find myself losing confidence in the image and it’s very difficult to summon the will to finish it off. Most of my work is completed over two or three days in several short sessions - maybe an average of six to eight hours working time in total, though some can be as little as an hour or two, and others might take twelve hours or more. The time taken seems to be as much to do with my own mood and motivation as the complexity of the painting itself.
3DTotal: Which part of producing these paintings do you enjoy doing the most?
Matt: Take-off and landing, definitely. Just like a plane flight, it’s the beginning and end which are most exciting - that’s where everything is happening.
The first sketchesand thumbnails as the picture begins to reveal itself is perhaps the most exciting part because you have this partial vision of how the final image might appear and the anticipation of seeing the finished product is mixed in with the anxiety over how the image might progress if mistakes are made during the painting. The final stages as the details and highlights go in is the bit I look forward to the most, but there’s an certain amount of fear too as I really don’t know until this part if the picture is going to ‘work’. The hours of effort in between are dreadfully dull by comparison.
3DTotal: What would be your ideal job?
Matt: I consider myself very lucky, because in many ways I’m doing it right now - I spend most of my day painting concepts for video games, working alongside some very creative people for a company which has treated me very well in the decade or so I have worked there. I can’t think of many ways to improve it without entering the realms of fantasy. Sorry, that’s a terribly boring answer.
3DTotal: Where do you see yourself in a 10 years time? Matt: On a Friday afternoon in late summer, with a cool breeze wafting through the double doors of a comfortable studio which are thrown open to reveal a tidy little garden with views over the sea. The kids are hanging out at the beach while I’m busy putting the finishing touches to another of the books which has paid for my idyllic new lifestyle. A spicy aroma from the kitchen tells me dinner's
almost ready, and if I’m not very much mistaken, that gentle clink of glass on glass tells me that my girl's on her way through with margarita aperitifs...Ah, dreams! Honestly, if I’m still able to earn a living through my artwork and my family are happy, I’ll be pretty contented where ever I am. I’d like to be living in a world in which humans have stopped blowing each other up, too.
3DTotal: That’s a pretty scene that you have just created, kind of makes me jealous. So which sea would you like to be overlooking?
Matt: The Atlantic; I think that little dream house is somewhere down near the end of Cornwall.
3DTotal: Who inspires you artistically? Matt: I could write a huge list here, but there are a few artists who’s work I never tire of returning to. John Singer Sargent, Robert McGinnis and Frank Frazetta would probably be my favourites if I had to choose - three artists with very different styles, but all masters in their field. I think what attracts me to these artists is their ability to create such compelling images with so few strokes. Look at Sargent’s portrait of Lady Agnew, Frazetta’s Death Dealer, or just about any of McGinnis’s 1000+ paperback book covers - and you’ll see how they apparently work with incredible efficiency and economy, rendering only what is absolutely necessary and allowing the rest of the image to fall away into ever looser strokes. Such clarity in technique gives their work real power. Looking at images by any of these artists always makes me want to go and paint.
3DTotal: What has been your greatest accomplishment? Matt: Art-wise? Hard to say - I don’t really think about it in those terms. I received an email entitled ‘fan mail’ a little while back from an artist I have admired for several years and for whom I have a huge amount of respect. That made me feel good. I felt as if I’d accomplished something that day.
3DTotal:What is one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring artist? Matt: Turn off the Internet and get to work! Seriously, developing self-discipline is very important, and I know a lot of artists who are easily distracted. Don’t let the Internet, TV, video games and all that other fluff get in the way of your artwork - practise is the best was to improve, so if you haven’t drawn today, why not? Get to it!