Robb Reader: Contemporary British Painter Paul Lock

What was the epiphany you experienced in 2012, and how did it come about?

What was the epiphany you experienced in 2012, and how did it come about?
A few months before it, I’d quit alcohol after many years of heavy drinking. I used to work in FinTech sales, providing solutions to hedge funds and investment banks. Since quitting alcohol, I’d been struggling with my mental health and I was searching for some relief. I’d come across a philosopher called Sydney Banks and it was something I heard him say that triggered it. It was early morning and I was driving to our offices in Wimbledon Village. What I realised was so unbelievably simple: “I am not my thoughts”. But it was the implication of these words that was so profound.

Not long before this, I’d also realised that everything I was – my personality, everything I knew to be me, liked or disliked, everything I felt, every experience I’d had, in fact my entire experience of life – was being created through my own mind, my thoughts. And now here I was realising the totality of everything I wasn’t! It felt was so mind-blowingly simple and obvious, I was laughing and crying at the same time. I was hitting the steering wheel, shouting out loud – I had to pull the car over, I couldn’t drive. I knew in that moment that I’d found my answer, I’d found the answer to everything I’d ever been looking for. Everything slowed down, there was a stillness I’d never experienced before. It was like everything suddenly stopped and I was going in slow motion. My mind was so incredibly quiet. I woke up to a whole new world around me in that moment.

How would you describe your ‘mapping’ painting technique to the uninitiated?
My mapping technique stems from my experience of realising everything I understood to be true about reality was untrue. I break down and rebuild my subjects to create a whole new way of seeing them. It’s obvious who they are but they’re changed forever.

I spend hours mixing colours and tonal values, pushing the colours back and pulling them forward, using colours to compliment and contrast with the colours surrounding them. If you turn your phone camera to mono black and white and look at my paintings through your phone screen, you’ll better understand how I’m also using the colours to define a structure.

How, or on what basis, do you select human subjects?
It varies from being commissioned to create a specific piece to painting subjects who have had an impact on my life in some way. Sometimes, I just love the light and dark of a particular image and want to recreate it in my own way. One of the projects I really enjoyed was painting ex-offenders who have turned their lives around. I’d first met them a few years previously, in prison, when I was there helping people to overcome addiction and mental health issues.

Where, and in what situations, do you get your strongest creative ideas?
I’m not sure that there are any particular situations or places where I feel more creative. But there seems to be a correlation between the head space I’m in and creativity. If I’ve got too much on my mind it seems to be a barrier, but then believing this to be true can also be the creative barrier! It’s sometimes just about getting on with it. I do gravitate towards quiet in my surroundings – I love the quiet both in my studio and that I experience in nature. The most important thing I’ve realised about creativity is that the more deeply I understand life and who I am, the more present I become and the more creativity I experience. Overall, I think creativity is life itself – it’s everything, everywhere, all of the time.

Is there anything you haven’t achieved which you’d love to have achieved 20 years from now?
Before I left FinTech I would often walk past some of the top galleries in Mayfair, on my way to client offices. I’d dream of having my art on display, so, I think having my art hung in one of the top galleries in Green Park or Mayfair would be my big dream.

Who – dead or alive – is your greatest artistic inspiration?
It would have to be my daughter. She has taught me more about creativity, through her example of living, than anyone. I’ll never forget the day she came into our bedroom, as she did every morning, with the light of life shining so brightly that it shocked me into quitting alcohol and finding myself. It’s because of her that I feel like a child again, ready to live life and create.

All limited edition prints produced by The Logical Choice Group

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