Paul Lemmon is a self-taught artist working from Wimbledon Art Studios. He graduated from Kingston University in Graphic Design. After working as a graphic designer for over ten years Paul Lemmon took a leap of faith and committed himself to full time painting.
What Are The Main Features Of Paul Lemmon’s Paintings?
Paul Lemmon’s work has a fly on the wall feel to it. Shooting “from the hip”, using sharp angles, heavy cropping and incorrect exposures he creates paintings that exude cinematic voyeurism.
Paul Lemmon’s focus is on conveying the atmosphere of the moment and in omitting details of location and subject he adds to the painting’s intrigue. This allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the scene and create their own characters and back stories.
“I want the viewer to feel immersed in my paintings.”
Once the composition has been finalised Paul Lemmon works with thinned Oil Paint quickly and loosely to preserve the spontaneity captured in the original image. Paul Lemmon is equally interested in the surface quality of his paintings. Energetic brushwork and overlapping strong colours are used to convey the energy and life of the captured moment.
Charles Baudelaire, one of Paul’s influences, coined the term “modernity” to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience”, and it was Susan Sontag who said that since the introduction of hand held cameras the camera had become the tool of the flaneur.
Paul Lemmon is the modern day flaneur, the urban explorer who saunters around observing society. Not a bad way to spend the day! Taking endless snap shots of city life is integral to Paul Lemmon’s practice in his quest to capture and convey fleeting moments in time.
Paul Lemmon spared some studio time to talk to Pullingers:
Which Living & Non-Living Artist Would You Like To Have A Drink With?
Gerhard Richter. I think he comes from a unique position having been classically trained in the Eastern Bloc and then applying his training to contemporary issues in the West. His work has mass appeal – accessible to anyone, but also real substance and critical weight. I’d like to hear about his experiences growing up in East Germany, a subject I find fascinating. I bet he likes a drink or two as well.
Perhaps Van Gogh. I’m interested in mental health issues and I’d like to share his pain over a few bottles of red. I’d like to tell him it was possibly the lead in the paint that sent him over the edge and I’d like to see his reaction when I tell him what kind of status his work would enjoy 100 years hence. There might be tears, but that’s art.
What Prompted The Move From Graphic Design To Painting?
It’s more the other way round really. At the age of about 8 I moved from painting to graphic design – in my head at least. It was suggested by my gran that graphic design would be a good career for me as you couldn’t live as an artist so she claimed. So even though I carried on painting and drawing, being a designer or at least an illustrator was what I saw in my future.
However, in adulthood and in work, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to suffer the constraints of design or office work forever. I tried to be a bit of an illustrator but the field is so controlled, your style has to be so defined and it’s very much dictated by agencies, I understood very quickly that fine art was more ‘me’.
It wasn’t until I started visiting art fairs and open studios that I began to realise that maybe I COULD live like this. I had very encouraging directors at work and one day, describing what I saw at an open studio, I said ‘I could do that’ and one of them said, ‘well why don’t you?’ The light went on!
How Does Paul Lemmon Describe His Work?
People tell me it’s bright, bold, expressive and fun. I’m interested in achieving two perspectives in my paintings I suppose: the image or scenario itself, but also an appreciation of the abstract surface quality – the overlay of colours and marks. So you can enjoy them standing back or close up.
If You Could Show Your Work Anywhere, On Anything Where Would It Be?
I think ultimately I’m happiest when someone has bought a painting off me because they just want to look at it and enjoy it every day. That, to me, is more satisfying in some ways than showing in an auspicious venue.
What’s In Your Art Kit?
I use big brushes, Oil paint, Zest it, Fast Drying Medium and the bottoms cut from white spirit containers as mixing trays. I paint directly from the computer screen so I’m constantly using my iMac and Photoshop. Also in my Art Kit is my tiny Canon Digital Camera and a Lomo Compact which I use to get the photographic material to start with.
How Do You Work Out The Compositions For Your Paintings?
I use scrapbooks for composition and lighting ideas, but I don’t really use sketchbooks. My sketching happens in the camera and in the endless compositions I work through in Photoshop before I arrive at the images I want. Using Photoshop to cut up and rearrange the photos I’ve taken, change colours, etc, is my sketching but in a digital way.
It’s quicker and you can immediately see what works. I don’t really work with lines. I work with colours and overlapping areas of shade. So a pencil in a book can’t get anywhere near that.
Which Art Product Could You Not Do Without?
Do You Always Work From Photographs?
I mainly work from Photographs because it just wouldn’t be practical to work from life in a bar! All of the spontaneity would be completely drained from the situation. It would be hopeless.
What Are You Working On At The Moment & Hoping To Achieve This Year?
At the moment I’m working on a departure from my regular painting, into something much less commercial – a vehicle for expressing ideas that I’ve had for a long time. It’s still painting but a very different technique and subject matter.
Are You Entering Any Open Submissions & Art Fairs This Year?
I am usually represented in Art Fairs throughout the year. I entered the Summer Exhibition (without success) and will be submitting to the National Open Art Competition again this year.
What Is The Best Piece Of Advice You Have Been Given?
Do whatever it takes. If you need to do something in particular or go somewhere to produce the work, do it, however much effort it might seem. Sometimes, if I feel I’m going a bit too far or taking too much time or it seems like too much effort, I hear the words ‘whatever it takes’ and it keeps me on track.
What Is Your Most Notable Achievement To Date?
I won second prize at the aforementioned National Open a few years back. It was the first time I’d entered so it was even more of a pleasant shock! I was also quite proud of a solo show I had in a huge restaurant in London. The walls were so huge that I produced 4 pieces especially to fill the space, bigger than anything I’d done before and it really pushed my work forward.
What Would Your Dream Project Be?
My dream project would be for a patron to come along and say ‘I like this new project you’re working on; I’d like to see what you can do with it without distractions. Here’s X amount of money for 3 years and I’ll pay for all your Art Materials’. That’s what I daydream about.
What Is Your Working Practice?
I do it when it needs to be done or when I feel like it. I don’t have any routine, but I’m probably in the Studio everyday either painting or doing any of the multitudes of other tasks that have to be seen to.
Any Tips / Techniques?
Despite my previous answer, it’s worth bearing in mind that you don’t necessarily have to wait till you feel like doing it to paint. Sometimes it’s worth doing it anyway and the feelings can follow. The author Oliver Burkeman is a very practical inspiration on that score, when it comes to procrastination.
What Is The Worst / Best Question You Have Been Asked?
The worst question is probably ‘Aren’t you any good at painting eyes?’ The best question is ‘Don’t you think you’re just objectifying women in your paintings?’ Which is a really good and a valid challenge to what I do I think.
We would like to thank Paul Lemmon for his time. His work is very inspirational!
For great deals on Oil Paints and other Art Supplies shop online with Pullingers Art Shop.
What do you think of Paul Lemmon’s work?