British-born artist Matthew Watts emigrated to Australia in 2001. Now based in the Melbourne suburb of Thornbury, Matthew starts the day with a cup of coffee (of course!) and a school drop off before he’s out into the studio, which is currently a section of his garage - minus a car and with the addition of a recently added skylight.
“I sit and look. If I don’t feel like starting to paint straight off, I will prime some panels and set up a music playlist. Music supports me. Silence is good too, but music works for me. I know of some painters who say they simply couldn’t tolerate music whilst working but that’s not my experience. A frustrated musician?... maybe. If only I’d stuck at those piano lessons.”
Matthew considers himself very fortunate to be a full-time artist, as he didn’t attend art school, but doesn’t consider himself as self-taught either.
“I haven’t taught myself anything, I’ve just experimented and never stopped. Always remaining open to possibilities and learning from so-called mistakes. So, it’s never a ‘walk in the park’. Not for me anyway. I can’t imagine I would still be getting up and being creative if it was easy - the challenge is always there.”
Matthew painted with acrylics for years but recently switched to oils and says he will never look back. For his work, he is drawn to the everyday, the ordinary and often overlooked, he often warms to what is sometimes called ‘ugly-beautiful’.
“I try to remain open to aspects of the quirky, the offbeat, the funny and yes, the downright ugly! If I can take something creative from that then that’s a score for me.”
Image: Matthew at work in his studio space
“I’m inspired by what I see around me, on walks in the local area. You have to be selective and there is a certain ‘thing’ I hope to see. That is to say, a certain ‘something’ seen in a certain way. A bit hard to explain, but I usually pick up on it if I spot it. If it’s the side of a factory; it’s the ratio of windows to wall, funnels, graffiti, ‘ugliness’ that might catch my eye.”
“I like ‘Ugly-Beautiful' ... It’s all beautiful really.”
Matthew's work has a hint of a nostalgia that can be felt by all of us, in some way or another. It reminds us of a certain time and fills us with a warmth for the familiar.
Inspiration from the everyday has helped Matthew create some beautiful pieces that encapsulate life and all its little joys. Be inspired by Matthew’s collection of work and see it online here!