Focus talks to Jeremy Burns, a London based emerging artist whose modern take on Cubo-Futurist painting is capturing people's attention.

Do you think your musical career has influenced your art?

Definitely. In my early paintings there were always musicians or figures within the scenes, however recently I’ve been working more with shapes and forms themselves. I take away any figure associated with the objects and focus in on the angularity of the shapes. I see the structure of these paintings as quite musical. My process is very trial and error until it comes together and starts to looks right, the same as when you hear a nice melody come together.

What is your favourite medium?

I have always been attracted to oil, as I am quite slow and methodical with my process I like the fact oil stays open for a while and you can blend away. You don’t have to rush to get that colour perfected.

If you are in the mood to push things forward then acrylics can be great, and digital is becoming great too. I use my IPad to experiment with different colour mixes of my compositions and I’ll often use those images as source material for my paintings.

Why not just use the digital images as finished products?

As you start to paint changes will happen and it evolves as you respond to the material. Ultimately there is something nice about having a tangible image, a painting or a drawing that you can put on your walls. Its physicality and texture has a presence that is absent in digital. The more worked process of painting encourages people to spend longer absorbing the various marks and energy of that piece.

Have you been exhibiting a lot in the last few years?

Having lived in Scotland for ten years I did a few art fairs up there, on a much smaller scale to what we have here in London. I’ve now been exhibiting more in the city and have found it a great environment.

Engaging with the general public is great for being critically analysed. At art fairs people have been very responsive to my work, and each person interprets something different within the abstractions.

Do you produce commissions?

Yes, my average commission tends to be portraits actually. This is good because people have a rough guide of what to expect. I like to meet them beforehand and I’ll ask about the palette they have in mind. Usually they let me get on with it. It’s nice to have that trust in your ability, but ultimately you just don’t know how people are going to react when the see it.

Ommatidia, Oil on panel

Ommatidia, Oil on panel

Has it always been good?

Years ago I did a portrait for a girl who went out with my friend. In the end they broke up and she backed out which was difficult, as I’d spent a lot of time on the painting, but that was more politics than a dislike for my work. Thankfully that was the only time!

You’ve just got a studio in London, how are you finding it?

I was painting from my living room before, and the thing about painting from home is it’s hard to focus. When it’s in the house the process can drag. It doesn’t really stop, but then again it doesn’t really start and you can go a bit stir crazy. I would recommend getting a studio to anyone trying to take his or her work seriously.

This is the first year I’ve had a studio space and its good because you go there, work, take lunch, get back to work, get home and then you can put it to one side in the evening.

What advice would you give to someone who hasn’t painted for a while and is wishing to get back into the habit?

I know I just spoke about the benefits of a studio space, but if you don’t have a one you can still paint. Just find a quiet corner in your living room. If you don’t have a large space just start working a bit smaller. You have to be practical.

Make it as easy and accessible to yourself as possible. You should be relaxed, don’t try to be militant.  If you work 9-5, Monday to Friday then you don’t have to pressure yourself to paint six hours after each working day, just try with an hour, or even half. Whatever you can manage to keep up your rhythm.

Also, keep your creative mind fresh and carry a sketchbook with you. If you’re on the underground or the bus just sketch the world around you.  Wherever it may be keep that muscle memory and continue your development.

Founders, oil on panel

Founders, oil on panel

How do you find the business of selling artwork?

Once you have sold a painting you are a commercial artist, whether you like it or not, so you have to consider how people are responding to your art, especially if you are attempting to live by it full time. We create artworks, which people consume. If you want to connect with people you need to be accessible. I paint because I enjoy it, but I do have to be conscious of this. Sometimes I think I can alienate myself from the public by going too far into my own work without giving it air. It’s especially interesting to get feedback when you have several pieces of work on show as it will reveal which paintings are capturing the most attention. This response can often help to guide your art forward.

Jeremy will be exhibiting in Focus LDN's second groundbreaking exhibition of 2016 The Londoner's Compass this October 18th - 23rd at The Strand Gallery, London.