James Knight has been experimenting with colour and abstract paintings since his childhood, experiments which have helped prepare him to take part in the 10th Art Trail Wanstead this September.
My early years were spent in Shoreditch, and I always had an interest in drawing, painting and colour. My family were printers and worked with colour and form. I remember helping my mother spread ink onto a letterpress printing plate during my childhood. The form of the spread ink was one of my earlier experiments with colour.
When I entered secondary school, my two main influences were art teachers Mr Wesley and Mr Swindon. Mr Swindon was a great portrait and caricature artist, whilst Mr Wesley was wonderful with colour and pattern. Both encouraged me to feel free artistically and to experiment.
Upon leaving school, I worked for Panoramic Pictures taking photos of entire schools. Anybody who has had their school photograph taken will know the school is formed into a half-circle, with a camera in the middle on a swivel tripod. The great sport was for boys to have their photo taken at one end and then run round the back of the half circle and have their photograph taken at the other end, appearing in the same photograph twice.
From there, I continued to paint for my own pleasure in between a variety of jobs, which involved interior planning, photography and carpet and fabric design. All of which enabled me to indulge my love of colour. I also worked with the renowned interior designer Jon Bannenberg, who was a master of interiors and colour. He would join ceilings with walls using pattern to make a room flow and create abstract form by stippling feature walls.
The time open to me for painting dwindled as work got in the way, but I was always considering various ideas for when I had the time to put paint to canvas. I have always been more interested in abstract and surrealist art. I greatly admire Edward Burra and Salvador Dali. Burra, in particular, for his interpretation of the human form and Dali for his surrealist approach to the living world that surrounds us. Although, I think every artist must be admired for the amount of thought and work that goes into creating a painting.