Currently on display within Worthing Museum is our Open21 Exhibition that offers all those within our community an exciting opportunity to exhibit their artwork within a distinguished gallery space.
Entries were open to amatuer and professional artists, of all ages, from across Sussex. Resulting in over 500 pieces being submitted. From these, 158 artworks were chosen by our panel of judges. Open21 includes a huge range of work with diverse and contrasting styles, using many different mediums; such as 3D sculpture and photography, alongside work in acrylic, oil, pencil and pen.
Out of all the artwork on display, 9 were shortlisted by our panel of judges. The overall winner of the Open21 Exhibition was artist Steve Carroll with his painting ‘Mirkwood‘.
In this Q&A, we asked Steve a series of questions about his Open21 submission, aiming to gain an insight into what inspired him to create Mirkwood.
Can you tell us more about the inspiration for your Open21 artwork?
The painting ‘Mirkwood’ was painted on the spot where the plantation intersects with Goring Gap. I love painting outside and capturing the mood of a place and an occasion. I exaggerated the colours just like Van Gogh or Gauguin would have done. I wasn’t too pleased with this painting, so the following day I went back and did another one, but decided I preferred the first one.
What process, materials, techniques, etc. did you use to create your Open21 submission?
I used oil paint on canvas. I usually start by drawing the composition out in ultramarine blue, then adding complimentary colours. I exaggerate colour so that if the forest floor has a reddy-brown hue I paint it strong red. Shadows are blue and the areas where the sunlight was entering the plantation, I paint yellow. I always start with a brush and often finish off areas with a palette knife. If I feel a part does not need over-working, like the tangled blue tree in the distance, then I leave it as the original sketchy painting.
When people view this artwork, what do you want them to experience and think about? Is there a connection between your message and the way you make art?
When I was at art college, one of my tutor’s said of my paintings that they worked best when I just ‘visually reacted’ to something. There is no message in this painting beyond the joy of nature and colour. I am just visually reacting.
What is your background? How did that inform your artwork?
My background is in graphic design, and I have created a lot of graphic images of Sussex, but I wanted to move back to painting – my first love. However, I do feel there is still a graphic element to the strong areas of colour in my paintings.
Are there specific subjects or themes you return to regularly within your art? If so, are they evident in your Open21 piece or is this style new to your repertoire?
With painting I try to work outdoors. People may think my work doesn’t look a whole lot like the scenes I paint, but I am informed by them. I cannot abstract elements from imagination as well as I can from nature. I find nature throws up such incredible invention.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
My first influences were the Impressionists, but I soon became enthralled by the German Expressionists, especially the Die Brücke movement. I think my work is somewhere between Fauvism and Expressionism. I also love the British Neo-Romantic artists. If I was forced to name a favourite artist, it would be Graham Sutherland. One must remember that looking at and creating art are two entirely different processes. I like anything from Medieval altarpieces to conceptual art, but I am inspired to paint by a much narrower group of artists.
Where can people find you online?
My graphic work is on my website stevecarrollssussex.com I haven’t put up a website of paintings yet, but you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
In response to his success, Steve said “It was a shock and an honour to be named overall winner at the Worthing Open21 Exhibition, especially because the standard of work exhibited was so high.”
The Open21 Exhibition is open to the public at the Worthing Museum in the Main Gallery and Norwood Landing until Sunday 13 Feb 2022 and is FREE for visitors to come and see.