Meet the artist: Matthew Alexander
PUBLISHED: 13:06 07 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:10 08 November 2015
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Monkton-based artist Matthew Alexander's masterful landscapes capture the alluring Kent countryside and its open skies.
For 10 years Matthew Alexander worked in a studio at the bottom of the garden, before getting planning permission to create a new barn-like version, which includes a gallery, in a plot next to his house at Monkton, near Minster in Thanet.
Architect designed, large and with high ceilings it is, in Matthew’s own words, “a fabulous space.”
Matthew likes to go to London but says that living in the capital while at college was enough, preferring Kent’s clean air, open spaces and access to the coast.
Born and bred in Margate, he appreciates “the uninterrupted coastline with views of the sea into infinity.”
His father was an artist, so Matthew has been around art all his life. Not surprisingly he says that “painting is life; I don’t know anything else.”
He trained as an artist at Canterbury College and then at Maidstone, but learnt his painting skills from his father, who also taught at the college. Matthew describes his style of art as a continuation of the British Impressionist movement. His subjects most often have to do with open skies. “I’m aware of the changing nature of sky and the movement of light across the landscape, the effect of foreground shadows. It’s the idea of things moving from light into shadow.
“I love the feeling that everything is on a point of balance, so I love things in half shadow which give the sense of impending change.”
One of his artist heroes is Edward Seago who created stunning skyscapes. And of the original Impressionists, Matthew cites Alfred Sisley, whose work was recently shown in the National Gallery exhibition Inventing Impressionism.
Sisley is his favourite Impressionist because of a lack of sophistication and almost naive, fresh approach: “He wasn’t full of clever tricks. He wasn’t flashy.”
Matthew’s fine works are in oil. “I have painted in watercolour, but the lovely thing about oil is the transparency, flexibility and the possibility of doing impasto.
“You can make so many different images, it’s like Renaissance music and oil paint is like Rachmaninov. There’s nothing quite so exciting as a box of unopened oil paints.”
He doesn’t work to a design: “It’s an intuitive thing, trial and error. You evolve over the years. You start off with a fixed idea and as you work, things that happen suggest other ideas.”
His father used to insist he always take a sketchbook out, but eventually Matthew found himself ‘freed’ and doesn’t feel there’s any need to sketch life, prefering now to take a camera.
Matthew may work on a series of landscapes at a time, generally on panels from 9in by 12in up to 20in by 30in.
“I tend to get involved with stuff and paint until exhausted, then there is a period of creative idleness. I’ll look at a book or go to exhibitions. I absorb them and then an inspiration will come.”
If Matthew was restricted to just one colour to paint with, he tells me it would “probably be burnt umber, because it is a warm colour and when mixed with white it is cool.”
Finally, Matthew advises young artists to follow their own star, remembering that art is ninety nine per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration. He adds with a smile: “Refuse to become a member of any club that would have you. Get past the ego and work alone.”
Get in touch
For more information, contact Matthew Alexander on 01843 821427 or mobile 07815 892209.
He will be exhibiting at his gallery, Alexanders Gallery, Barn Studio, Canterbury Road, Monkton CT12 4LH from 28 November to 23 December.