Where did you study art, and how well do you think that has equipped you for the real world as an artist?
I studied art at the University of Sunderland. Whilst there I experimented with different techniques before discovering it was linear work which interested me the most. I think this equips you for the real world as an artist as you develop a strong work ethic. You also gain confidence to work independently and as a group when hanging and exhibiting work in the degree show.
What drives you to make art?
What drives me to create art is my passion for creating lines when putting pen to paper. I love to draw the outlines with fine liner pens first before adding smaller details into the work such as windows and lamp posts. This way of working is quick and means that you can create a rapid energy and movement within the work, which I strive to achieve in all of my paintings. This process of creating the art, combined with having ideas for future paintings, really excites me and pushes me to create new work.
Who is your favourite artist and why?
My favourite artist is Norman Cornish. I can remember visiting one of his exhibitions when I was younger and seeing how much I loved his work. His subjects include industrial scenes such as the mines and also busy pub scenes. A lot of his work is built up using heavy outlines and this really inspires me in my own work. I particularly admire his pen and ink sketches of Paris.
What is it about London which inspires you so much?
I am inspired by London because there are so many interesting view points to create new work from. I am currently working on building up my London portfolio. It's really interesting to have the contrast of history with modern buildings such as creating work that includes Big Ben with the London Eye. One of my favourite locations is the Southbank and the many lamp posts alongside the Thames. I find the details on these lamp posts fascinating such as the crowns on top and the serpents wrapped around the base. These are one of my favourite things to draw when I am creating art based on London.
How do you perceive London’s rapid physical and social evolution?
Every time I visit London there is a real buzz and energy when you walk around, not only from the people, but also from the architecture. I find the rapid evolution of London really exciting. London's skyline is always developing and changing with modern additions, including the Shard. This means there is always something different to see and the sprawling skyline fuels ideas for new work.
What are the most important compositional aspects to your artwork?
The most important compositional aspects of my artwork are the lines and creating depth. The lines are to create a sense of movement and energy within the work to give it vibrancy. Adding objects such as lamps into the foreground with buildings or boats in the background helps to achieve depth, meaning that your eyes can constantly move around the work to take in the details. Applying colour with watercolour paints helps to add the nuances of depth.
What has been the most pivotal moment in your creative career thus far?
My first exhibition in London, The Art of Regeneration at the Menier Gallery in April. This meant that my work had more exposure, interest and could reach a wider audience. It was a fantastic setting in which to see the work and to meet other artists. It has also led on to exhibiting at the upcoming Londoner's Compass exhibition this October.
What creative advice would you give to yourself if you could go back five years?
I would advise to be confident and to keep working hard to develop your own style. It can also take a number of years creating art work before it leads on to other opportunities and it is important enjoy what you do. It is also important to promote your work through social media to generate interest in your work.
Jonathan Gray will be exhibiting in Focus LDN's second major exhibition of 2016 The Londoner's Compass