03 September 2012

Terry Greene


Can you briefly describe what you do?

I make small improvisatory paintings using acrylic paint on canvas (and occasionally on found boards).

What drives you to make work?

It just seems to me to be one of a handful of activities worth doing and that makes any sense. Just in the physical act, the decision making process, applying paint upon a previously worked surface and I'm immediately lost in the practice, the search and personal discovery which takes place. I think like most artists I like to push at any parameters from time to time, to explore some new territory and surprise myself. Each new painting seems to me to offer always new possibilities.

Can you tell me something of your day-to-day working practices?

I get into the studio usually after an early morning walk on the moors with my dog. The walk is ideal preparation time, allowing for reflection. In my studio I have stacks of (shop purchased) small ready stretched canvases and I always have a number of pieces of canvas, paper and boards on the floor, in various states of beginning. Other works are on the walls and these tend to be the ones I consider are near some state of becoming.

In the studio I attempt to begin straight away. I now work with a newly found urgency, across any number of canvases upon the floor, adding and obscuring stains of colour with new variously generated marks. This is the prelude, the warm up or loosening up period, like in some sports. My thinking at that point is, in part, that I’m engaged with drawing and allowing paint to be paint on the taught or loose plane of the support. This is the initial attempt to begin to open up a space for a dialogue. One piece generally captures and holds my interest and I concentrate on that one usually for the rest of the session. I'm not trying to resolve anything; I attempt to maintain a level of distance and ambivalence towards the painting. The practice is one of trying to be in the moment during the act of applying, removing and the adjustment of liquid colour over the surface - just being present that instant when some form of dialogue begins within each work. I spend the day in the studio until late afternoon. In the evening I may return to continue to paint or alternatively I might work on some drawings.

How long have you been working in that way?

I guess for about 3 or 4 years now.

Which artists have had the greatest affect on your work?

A partial list might include: Braque (the later studio series - they still disturb and beguile me); Soutine (those claustrophobic surfaces of painted space and matter, Circa 1921-22 - especially the Ceret landscapes); Morandi (looking at those painted spaces in and around the objects in his still-lifes); Guston (his world appears to be made entirely out of liquid paint); Forrest Bess (if only I could be that direct) and Raoul de Keyser (uncompromisingly beautifully cryptic).

What, outside visual art, informs your practice?

Travel, walking, streets; in short the world about me. I now realise I really don't have to travel very far from home, I just have to be open and the unfamiliarity of a place can be [re]discovered. That impression or experience is then always available to me to be called upon within the confines of the studio. Music and literature have always been close to hand, and thinking around these subjects have, over time, informed my thinking. My sister-in-law is a member of GIO (Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra) and she recently introduced me to graphic scores - which just blew me away!

How would you like people to engage with your work?

If they take the time to look then I'm happy, however, I would prefer it to happen in an unmediated and open way, without the aid of a statement or explanations, just a simple meeting.

Have you seen anything recently that has made an impression?

Recently I have begun exchanging works with a group of artists I've meet via the internet, including: Susan S Scott, Keith Murdoch and David T Miller. Their paintings now hang on the walls of my home and make a wonderful impression on me on daily basis.

Do you have anything exciting on the horizon?

Yes! Also, I'm just about to make another exchange of work with an Australian artist Inga Dalrymple, which I'm really pleased about!


  1. Love Terry's work and a great interview!

  2. Lovely interview questions and wonderful answers. Terry, we seem to have a very similar process (although I work in oil), and your work is great!

  3. Really pleased to hear Soutine mentioned. Wish I had one to hang next to my Terry Greene!