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Paine Proffit's Biography

Paine Proffit - Double Expresso

I was born in 1972 in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States. Both of my parents were journalists and my father was the foreign war correspondent for Newsweek Magazine at the time (and later a novelist), so we never spent a long time in any one place. Moving from one country to another every one or two years, greatly shaped both myself as a person and my relationship with art. The more we travelled, the more time I began spending on my own drawing and painting. As this continued, art began to become more and more important to me. My parents, both having writing backgrounds, were very supportive and encouraged me to follow my artistic interests. After living in Vietnam, Lebanon, Kenya, and several places in the U.S., my family finally settled in Philadelphia, where I spent my formative years, and started to become serious in following an art career. After high school, I applied to several art schools and went to study ''illustration'' at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. During my time at university, I spent a summer teaching at a children''s art camp, where I met fellow British artist Paula McArdle, who I have since married. I took a year off from RISD (my university) to spend a year studying with Paula at the art college at the University of Brighton, which was also my introduction to England.

I count this time as one of the most important growing periods of my personal and artistic life: I had the freedom to artistically explore and spent most of my time working. I returned back to the U.S., finished my final year of University and graduated in 1995. I then moved back to Philadelphia and spent the next five years working as a freelance illustrator. During these years, I worked for several newspapers, magazines, book publishers, and corporate clients, building up a name, and have been fortunate to receive several U.S. national awards and honours in recognition of my work. In 2001, I married and moved to England full-time, where my wife and I now live in the Midlands. On coming to England, I began working on more personal work and have found that exploring my own subjects, emotions, and experiences artistically has led to what I consider the second important artistic growing period in my life. I''ve found this personal approach and work so much more fulfilling, interesting, and exciting. I sent samples to Washington Green and it was this new work that caught the eye of Glyn Washington.

Constantly moving, I was fortunate to see so much of the world at an early age; this has also led to a life-long love affair with travel and has been a huge influence on my work. Since moving to England in 2001, I have spent this time finding my artistic ''voice'' and working on paintings that are more personal to my interests. As a result. Whether it''s a cafe scene or a football player, a ''20s Jazz musician or a pint down the pub, I love the different choices, looks, and lifestyles that people choose for themselves. I find so much of my work coming back to these central themes. I love the look and relaxed style of cafe culture ... Parisian street scenes, people drinking coffees in European cafes, or sitting and talking in elegant restaurants. I also like the classic imagery of people from all walks of life enjoying a drink; from men and women enjoying a glass or bottle of wine in a cafe, to business people drinking martinis, to people having a pint after a hard day''s work. My fascination of people in cafes, restaurants, and pubs seems to come hand-in-hand with a love and fascination of English and European life. A lot of my work has a romantic "European" influence to it - the look, location, and traditional lifestyle, combined with a love of the classic, nostalgic feel of the 1920s and ''30s. Other fascinations and interests of mine that find their way into my work are sport, music, and fashion. I''ve always loved just about all sports, and my paintings have always been drawn to the imagery and style of sports such as baseball, golf, and ever since my first visit to England in 1993, the instant influence and love of football. Whether it''s the passion for the game or the beautiful visuals that the game provides, I don''t think I could ever get tired of painting the players, strips, and feeling of the games of both baseball and football. Classic images of music can also be beautiful, especially Jazz and the Blues. Though I''m more partial to the Blues, both types of music provide fantastic visual looks, in both the colours, instruments, atmosphere, attitude, and characters. Classical music can also have beautiful imagery that is a pleasure to work with. I also like the looks of everyday people performing on instruments, such as a Parisian street performer or maybe a sailor with an accordion ... combining music with everyday life. Fashion is also an important influence on my work ... I love the look of classic clothing as well as the more exotic, hi-fashion, haute-couture style of clothes. A lot of my work goes back to a more classic, vintage, older feel in clothing: to suits and dresses, to a time when people wore hats and dressed up to go out. The fashion of the ''20s and ''30s has always had a strong presence in my work; I''ve always tried to hold on to this vintage look and style, but also keep it as contemporary as possible.

Travel has always been an interest of mine. Ever since a small child, I''ve been fascinated with maps, globes, documentaries, other countries, cultures, and people. To this day, I still get excited about travelling. Not only do I love the excitement of going somewhere new, of seeing other cities or countries, and experiencing different ways of life, but I also love the actual experience of going somewhere ... physically being in airports waiting for a plane, travelling on a boat, looking out of the window on a train, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants: it all comes together as part of the whole experience. Whether directly or indirectly, travel (both the journey and the destination) has greatly influenced me and my work. In every scene, obvious or subtle, there is an element of travel, foreign culture, or it is somehow influenced by my travels or experiences. I think it will always continue to influence me and my work, and will forever remain close to my heart. Apart from subject matter and style influences, I''ve had a strong love for colour and texture in paintings. I hope this can be instantly recognised in my work: I always try to keep the scene together but also create a surface and texture that is a little rough, broken, or interesting. The build-up of paint and texture can give an exciting look and feel to the piece, adding another element of interest to the painting. Combined with a strong use of colour, it can make an effect that gives a painting an emotional sense that it might not have had before. Emotion and feeling of the human character are other aspects that I like to work with. Sometimes, the characters in my work can take on a range of emotional states: whether happy, sad, thoughtful, excited, lost in memory, amused, alert, or miles away ... or all at the same time. I try to also make the pieces "open" for interpretation, leaving each individual to take their own feelings from the piece, or in fact, to bring their own feelings and thoughts to the piece. I find the emotional and psychological landscapes of the human being so wonderful to work with, and try to somehow work that into each painting. Whether it be feelings and experiences, how we relate and interact with each other, emotion, memories, and so on, it''s always been wonderful and fascinating to me and will continue to be in my work.

I usually work on several paintings at once (which can range from 5 to 15 pieces) and try to balance the same stages of each painting. I always work in acrylic: it''s the medium that I feel most comfortable with and I''ve always liked that it dries quickly. With hopping from one painting to another, one piece is usually dry after working on a couple of others, and I can return to it quickly. In preparing for a piece, I always start with sketches and try to sketch whenever I feel inspired. I''ve found that sometimes I can go through a productive period where ideas come and I''ll try to get down all the sketches I can, which I can hold on to and come back to later - because I''ve also had dry patches and it''s nice to have a stockpile of sketches to look back on, to either use in a finish or help inspire the next set of sketches. After I''ve selected sketches to use in a piece or have re-worked ideas to a finished sketch, I choose which sizes might work best for each piece and cut loose canvas. I also prepare the canvas by putting a thin wash on the piece and then try to build up the texture.

I''ll then try to do a light pencil drawing of the sketch onto the canvas; I''ll try to match the sketch as best I can but often the piece starts to change a little and take a direction of its own. Once I''m happy with the drawing, I''ll outline the pencil with a dark painted line drawing, so I can see the line drawing after colour has been added. From there, I start with solid under-colour and continue to add other colours until I feel it looks right. As with the drawing, the painting and colours can sometimes take a life of their own and if it works, I''ll let it, though I usually have a good idea of what I want the piece to look like. I also like to work on a piece as a whole instead of finishing one section and moving onto another. The general shape of the piece goes from broader shapes and gets worked down to the specifics; it''s really a matter of continuing to work the piece until it just feels right.

I usually wake up around 7am in the summer (and an hour or so later in the winter, depending on the daylight ... I''ve always had trouble getting going when it''s still dark out). I then get a glass of grapefruit juice and turn on the news or take a look at teletext. Armed with the headlines, sports, and entertainment news, I''ll usually look over sketches and see what I''m working on today. After an hour or so of looking at sketches, artwork, reference, and the TV guide, I''ll usually take a quick break and get some breakfast, mostly cereal. As long as I don''t have any errands or tasks that require leaving the house, then I''ll move to my desk and start working on the artwork. I usually move from piece to piece, so there''s a constant shifting of artwork and working on one painting to the next.

I also often listen to music on headphones while I work and will choose music that fits my mood or the artwork. Around noon, I''ll take a break and get some lunch, usually a sandwich, soup, or something small, which I might eat in front of the TV, again watching the news or something I can join in on and leave without getting too committed, but still allowing me a break from the paintings. Then it''s back to work in the studio, again moving from piece to piece. Around 6pm, my wife Paula and I will usually take a break, eat dinner, and talk for a while. If I need to keep working on a project, I will return to the studio for a while and continue working, but most of the time, after dinner Paula and I will watch TV or a movie together, or maybe go for a walk. Sometimes, in the evening I''ll work on sketches and drawings or look at books of other artists'' work, or maybe listen to music ... really, it''s just something to help me wind down. Just before bed, I might take a quick look at how the pieces are looking or think about what I need to do tomorrow, but unless I''m working on them I won''t spend too much time with them at this time. Then it''s off to bed.

Paine Proffit's Artwork

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5pm Kingsley Street
by Paine Proffit
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