Artchat [Blog Interview #71] – Ken Strong

Ken Strong’s vibrant and rich paintings have us here at Art Chat buzzing. We couldn’t wait to interview him and find out a little more about him and his wonderful paintings.Ken-Strong02AC: Can you remember you earliest motivation to pursue a career as an artist?

KS: I have always had the desire to paint, even in early years in Primary School.  I’m not sure where the motivation came to persue an art career, but I was fortunate to be surrounded by magnificent landscape and seascape when initially living adjoining the Kuringai Chase in Sydney as a child to be later followed by Brisbane Water on the Central Coast.  I was also fortunate to have a friend at school whose father was a professional artist - David Perks.  Davids work which I have always admired, provided a substantial degree of motivation for me to further develop my own approach.  All these combined with my early love of painting came together over the years with where I am today.

AC: You have discussed the importance of composition to your painting, how valuable are the other formal elements such as line, colour and form when painting for you?

KS: I have a very strong focus on sketching my compositions prior to commencing on the canvas or board.  I am looking for movement, balance, identification of the subject, use of directional lines within the texture of the paint to reinforce the important elements of the work.  I may sketch a work several times, playing with options to achieve the best result.  One thing seems to always result, there are many ways of achieveing a successfully composition and in most cases, although there is always a plan, the finished result including nd changes to its development will always occur during the painting process.  It is like the brush has a mind of its own and will often find a path creating an interesting texture or contrast which benefits the overall composition.

AC: If you could work with any other artist from any era who would it be and why?

KS: I have changed my opinion on this several times over the years.  20 years ago I would have said Tom Roberts, Authur Streeton and Fred McCubbin.  Today however, I would love to have a go with Joseph Turner, Brett Whitely and Vincent Van Gogh.  Just imagine these three people in the room at the same time, the result would be explosive. Ken StrongAC: Can you tell our readers something that we would not know about you?

KS: I often struggle with the two careers in my life.  I am an engineer in part of my life and an Artist in the remainder. The left brain, right brain conflict causes me endless grief where the creative side clashes with the analytical side. I have arrived at work on occasions after having spent three hours in the studio and nothing seems logical. Alternatively, sometimes attempting to pick up a paint brush after a day at engineering can be almost destructive when my mind attempts to analyse everything I had previously achieved with the brush. In many cases the result is clearly developing but there is no obvious logic.  In situations like this, it is best to walk away until some sort of creative inspiriation returns.

AC: In the calm and still landscape, how are you able to create such spectacular movement?

KS: Art for me is all about movement. I have often said “the landscape is never static”, your sensory system does not see a lifeless image in real life, there is always some vibrance, some energy emanating from  the forms in front of me. Paint provides a wonderful medium with texture and direction that can channel your mind around a subject.  I like to start the brushwork in one corner and follow a path through the painting, hopefully keeping the interest of the observer. Whether the movement is in the work itself or within the mind observing the work is the key question

Ken Strong is currently on exhibition alongside two other artists Katherine Wood and Adrienne Williams at the Red Hill Gallery, 61 Musgrave Road Red Hill, Brisbane until the 26th of July 2015. Ken-Strong03 © Red Hill Gallery