An Interview with Paul Barlow
Paul Barlow's passion is surrealism.
When I first saw his artwork, I was impressed with the sophistication
of it. Then I was amazed to learn that he is only 16 years old.
Tell me about your fascination with surrealism, and how you got interested in it.
When I first saw surrealism it was while doing
an art project at high school. I looked at a Salvador Dali book. It created
the strangest feelings inside me—feelings I cannot explain, dream
like feelings and also like I had seen it before. I really connected with
it and understood absolutely everything straight away. It overwhelmingly
excited me, unlike my classmates who thought I had gone mad. I always
had a strange thinking inside me, this just let it out into my art. Surrealism
leaves an imprint in people's minds. There are millions of landscape painters
around. You don’t remember many landscape paintings you see, but
surrealism is very thought provoking and has a big impact on your mind,
which is what I like.
of your paintings feature the sky. Why is that a favorite subject?
Since I was very small, I have stared at the sky
and the clouds because of all its colors and shapes. It is something
amazing above us that nobody looks at or thinks about. It is just there
always watching us and constantly changing. I think it might be the escapism
feeling from the sky. When doing a painting my actual favorite part is
painting the clouds and sky. I love it. I don't use any references; I
hardly ever do anyway. I just let it happen on the canvas.
Do you have formal art training or are you self-taught?
I am a self taught painter, and I only started
properly painting the beginning of this year. I did GCSE art at high school
I got graded an A by the teacher. Then everybody’s grade went down
by one in the class by the examiners, which upset me. I then went on towards
my first diploma in art and design in College which is what I’m
currently doing. I finish very soon. I’ve done very well and had
amazing comments lately on my work, which pushes me on. We are having
an exhibition of our work in the opening of the new Hillsborough College.
did your art career begin?
I am not yet professional, although I sell paintings
now and again. When done with my art studying I hope to make a living
out of my art. I am very determined.
What specific theme are you trying to pursue
in your artwork?
Of course the main theme in my artwork is surrealism,
but also trying to create a surreal realism. Mainly so far the theme in
my surrealist art has been escaping, breaking free, going on a journey.
I subconsciously did this. Later on I tried to figure out my paintings,
which I often do a while after I’ve completed them. I related this
theme to my life at the moment. I had been thinking a lot about wishing
I was free to create my art, be a professional artist, and “break
free” from being a student.
Could you explain the difference between surrealism
and surreal realism?
Surreal realism is the type of work by Salvador Dali,
Rene Magritte and Max Ernst. They were surrealists, but their paintings
were painted in a realistic way whereas the other type of surrealism is
more abstract shapes, normally created by automatism, and not a realistic
reaction from a viewer makes you happiest?
The reaction that most satisfies me is when it creates
lots of feelings within them, and when they are very interested and can't
stop looking at it to figure it out.
What do you think separates good art from great
In my opinion good art is well crafted. Great art
is well crafted, but also created with heart and feeling.
What is the purpose of art?
This is a very hard question, but I believe it is
to excite people, evoke feelings in people and to be appreciated.
What do you think is the purpose of an artist?
To create artwork with feeling, passion, care, and
heart—not just to create for money. Here is a good quote: “A
man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands
and his mind is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his
mind and his heart is an artist” (Louis Nizer).
Who are your favorite artists?
My favorite artist’s include Salvador Dali,
Vermeer, Rene Magritte, and Jacob Ruisdael. There are many including lots
of the old masters, and a new artist named Lauren Coulson who paints landscapes
with big powerful skies.
do they influence your work?
Of course I am influenced by the surrealist method
from the old surrealist group, and by studying the old master paintings
I better myself as a painter.
How do you come up with ideas for artwork?
Mainly there are four ways. One
way is by looking at something or thinking of something normal, I get
a quick snapshot of a surreal image. It’s a sort of hallucination;
it comes from nowhere. I quickly sketch this down in my little sketch
book I carry with me.
Sometimes it could be a dream.
Another way is if I hear someone say something that
creates a picture in my mind. Yesterday I heard someone say “Santa
giving kids coal.” this gave me a snapshot image of a dark mystic
room with a bag and some coal in a corner and a hammer on a shelf. I would
call this “Santa’s Dark Workshop.”
Another is by automatic drawing, this is when you
begin to draw without knowing what you're going to draw—just let
are your favorite subjects to paint?
Mostly landscapes with surreal objects or themes
What is your favorite medium?
My favorite is oil paint, because of the bold colors
you can create in layers and also the fact it takes a long time to dry
so you can go back to it after a break, unlike with acrylic paint.
What is your favorite surface?
I like to work on medium grain or fine grain canvas
most of the time.
How long does it typically take you to complete
a finished work?
This is a question I cannot answer, and the reason
for that is I don’t know. While creating art I get lost and I’m
fixated on the work. I don’t think of anything else. When I’ve
finished my mouth is dry, I ache and I feel very tired.
How do you know when a piece is done?
None of my work is done in my eyes. I can always
work more on it, but I say a piece is done when I’ve worked a lot
on it, it looks how I wanted it too, and also when I’ve lost the
excitement of going back to paint it.
As an artist, what are some of your greatest challenges
or obstacles you face when making your art?
Although this hardly happens, my greatest challenges
are when I have no ideas. This frustrates me and as I’m frustrated
it becomes worse. Then I relax and let the ideas come to me, not me to
do you think has been you biggest achievement so far during your career
as an artist?
My only big achievements so far are getting the chance
to display some work into a shop.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Well I’m still only 16 years old, and I guess
I’m an aspiring artist, but the best advice I’ve been told
is to keep going, and don’t let bad patches stop you.
What are your favorite art books?
I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I like
Salvador Dali—The Paintings.
How can one acquire your work? Do you accept
There is no set place to purchase my artwork as of
yet, but I’m hoping to sell some online soon, so keep checking my
website for any news of it happening www.PaulBarlow.tk.
Also if you are in Sheffield (England) come down to the Hillsborough College
when it first opens. I will be selling artwork there. I don’t accept
commissions of what to create.
at a Glance
|Sheffield, United Kingdom