At Affordable Art Fair Hampstead 2019, we’re exploring the theme of art and wellbeing. So, ahead of the fair, we caught up with Andrew Hood and Elaine Jones from First Contemporary to discuss their contrasting artistic inspiration and practices, and how an artwork can improve both the physical space and how you feel within it. From Andrew’s busy and energetic street scenes to Elaine’s cool and calming abstracts, read on to discover the different ways that contemporary art can transform your home.
Could you tell us a little more about your sources of inspiration?
Andrew: I am mainly inspired by travel and colour. Whilst I like my paintings to be based upon a particular location, I also like to use colour to create the atmosphere and mood of a piece. Marrakech was a big influence, the colours and atmosphere of the souks provide a great starting point for my work.
Elaine: My paintings are inspired by the natural world. I feel particularly drawn to quiet locations devoid of humans, such as the Arctic or the rain forests of Costa Rica. More recent paintings are inspired by the sea, particularly the South Hams in Devon. Whereas Andrew paints specific places, my paintings are more ambiguous... I use the landscape as a starting point, but I consider my paintings to be primarily abstract.
How does your creative process lead to the resulting calm or energy?
Elaine: Whenever possible I retreat to the sea. It takes on so many different personas: Calming, wild, unpredictable, dangerous and beautiful. It is the perfect escapism from the turbulent times that we now live in. I try to echo some of these qualities and contrasts into my painting by combining calm and tranquil with more dramatic and dynamic gestures. To do this, I like to paint large areas of flat colour to create calm and quiet expanses of space to tie the painting together, making sense of the composition.
Andrew: There is a lot of energy in my painting. The process of applying and mixing the paint is very energetic in itself and as soon as I lose that energy the painting starts to lose its vitality, so I always try and keep things happening at a fast tempo. However, I think the colours I use often imbue a certain calmness alongside the frenetic marks.
You demonstrate two distinctly different styles. Do you ever work together or take inspiration from one another?
Andrew: We used to work in adjacent studio spaces and for a while our work was definitely starting to look similar. I also used to paint more landscape based work so our work seemed to be almost merging into one, but over time I’ve moved to more figurative work so the similarities are less. I think subconsciously we are still influenced by each other but in a very positive way.
How do you believe art can impact wellbeing?
Andrew: The power of art is immense. Having a painting in the house can change the whole atmosphere of a room and create a harmonious environment. I have several clients that have based their colour scheme on one of my paintings. This is very flattering, but at the same time it can be a good way to design an interior.
I think because both our work is semi abstract it allows the viewer to lose themselves in the pieces, and always see something new. The strong colours we both use also make a bold statement in interior spaces. The blues and greens that Elaine uses in her work create a very calming and translucent effect, whilst my reds and earth colours are bold and eye-catching to create a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.
Elaine: I find art and wellbeing to be very personally connected. I love to retreat into my studio to paint, and my mood definitely influences the outcome of my painting. I spent a small amount of time creating art workshops for refugee children in France because I think that it can help wellbeing tremendously. I feel very blessed to be an artist and when I began collecting paintings I used to swap with other artists I know.
The art we have around us can influence us greatly and help create a sense of wellbeing on a daily basis, most of the design in our house revolves around the art that we hang on our walls. We have many pieces in our house that give us joy all the time and we often find ourselves moving paintings around to see how they work in different rooms. One nice thing I have noticed lately is more people from the creative industries are buying our work, as a source of inspiration. Musicians and writers like to be surrounded by art when they are looking for inspiration and ideas.
One room, two ways
This fascinating insight into Andrew and Elaine’s inspiration and studio practice has certainly shown us that art and wellbeing are closely related for the artist themselves, but if you’re still wondering how you can make this change in your life, don’t panic!
A piece of contemporary art can truly transform the mood of your space. Whether you’re looking to create a cosy and relaxing corner perfect for curling up with your favourite book, or you have a tired room that needs a new lease of life, a well-chosen artwork could be just the thing to do the trick. Elaine’s calming abstracts bring stillness into your space, whereas Andrew’s vibrant splashes of paint immediately inject a sense of movement and pop of colour.
Book your tickets to Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, 9 – 12 May, to experience Andrew and Elaine’s paintings in person with First Contemporary on stand A2, and find that perfect piece to set the mood of your own space.
All studio photography by Alice Jane Hendy.
Interiors images courtesy of Andrew Hood and Elaine Jones.