ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 24] – Nick Young

Sunshine Coast Artist Nick Young catches up with Art Chat. Having studied at JulianAshton Art School in Sydney Nick approaches his painting in a classical manner with a contemporary edge. In 2004 Nick entered a portrait of artist Pro Hart into the Archibald Art Prize. Due to the publicity given to the painting during the Archibald selection process, negotiations were started with the National Portrait Gallery where it was decided that the painting had the artistic merit to be included in Australia’s collection of portraiture housed at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra! AC:      Nick your still- lifes with their dark background and strong source of light are reminiscent of 17th century Dutch painting.  What inspires you to paint in this way? NY:     I love that form and light interplay to create a subtle but powerful composition. I like to paint in a way that is not just about an initial attraction to vibrant colour to grab the eye, but a painting that allows me to wander through its passages and constantly appreciate the nuances that hide within. The Dutch masters did this very well and are a constant source of inspiration to me.

AC:      You often depict a mixture of east and west, what draws you to paint these particular scenes? NY:     I am intrigued by the varieties of ideas and concepts in different cultures and like to incorporate that feel in my work, a hint of the unknown and mysterious of our world.

AC:      You’re lucky enough to have a background in formal painting, how do you think this has influenced your creative process? NY:     A formal training is most valuable to me in the process I use to paint. Strong drawing skills and the ability to underpaint and then build up the layers of a painting with many transparent glazes is necessary to achieve the results that I seek.

AC:      Your portrait of Pro Hart for the Archibald in 2004 was very popular and has lead to great things for you. How does it feel to be selected to hang in Australia’s National Portrait Gallery? NY:     This was a great honour for me, it still is - what more can I say!

AC:      Who or what first inspired you to pick up the paintbrush? NY:     I have been drawing all my life; from my early teens I knew I wanted to be an artist. The Australian impressionists were my first heroes and I guess I have been lucky to earn my living this way for many years now.

AC:      Do you have a particular process you use to get into the ‘creative zone’ NY:     I like to spend "quiet time", a time to just look and reflect on objects and their beauty and then to arrange them in a way with a nice light source. Sometimes this happens quickly, sometimes it takes a long time, but once a setup has that 'feel" the creative zone is easy because the beauty is in front of me and I become eager to try and interpret that with paint.

AC:      What music do you listen to while you work? NY:     Heheheh! Anything from driving rock to opera, to country, to ballads. I seem to start with gentle music at the start of a painting, loud rock in the middle and finish the subtle nuances towards the end listening to Bocelli!

AC:      If you could have three artists (from any period) to dinner who would they be and why? NY:     Van Gogh, to see if he is as crazy as me , Turner, to see if he is as crazy as me , Pollock, to see if he is as crazy as me ! On a more serious note , I would love to have dinner with the 3 of them , it seems weird, their work is all so different, but their dynamics and honesty in their work is something I really dig.

AC:      What is your favourite childhood memory? NY:     In New Zealand where I was born I could walk through the fields to a piece of really old forest and lose myself in there, it was my own private world, I loved it.

AC:      You have a gorgeous old sailing boat, how often are you able to get out on her and what do you love most about her? NY:     In the last year I sailed it a 1000 miles down the east coast of Australia to spend time living in Sydney Harbour. I try to make sure that once a week I take her out for a sail. I am wanting to go for a run up to New Guinea for a few months. My boat is a gorgeous old 68 foot timber gaff schooner, I love her because to me she is like a still life painting, with beautiful and gracious lines and curves - a living beauty.

AC:      And lastly, if you could paint anyone in the world who would it be? NY:     mmmm, Penelope Cruz!!!