Christopher Green, who won the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2017 with Lunchtime, Liverpool Street, an ink on paper drawing, specialises in large scale, mono-chrome ink drawings of the landscape, London scenes and interiors. For Christopher, drawing in general is ‘a form of navigation, a way of orientating myself in the world and a way of exploring’, whilst drawing on the street specifically is ‘a record of looking, of noticing, and of improvising’. Following the launch of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2018, which is now calling for entries, I spoke to Christopher about his experience of the competition, his artistic method and his artistic journey.
What is it about the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize which makes it attractive to artists?
I think artists appreciate it as a figurative prize with a consistent and useful set of parameters. There is no sense of an in-house style or a need to reflect trends in contemporary art, artists are instead rewarded for a level of skill, encouraged in a wide range of subject matter and a personal response.
Tell us a little bit about Lunchtime, Liverpool Street, which won First Prize as part of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2017.
This drawing was inspired by seeing the Victorian buildings on Liverpool Street silhouetted against the Heron Tower. While broadly accurate the space is distorted, drawn from multiple positions deliberately to counteract the effects of perspective and describe a more immersive, expressive experience of looking up at and being surrounded by buildings. I have used a graphic mark-making technique to chart the sun’s progress across the sky and describe the effects of light, animating the space sensed between things with the impression overall of a lot going on.
You tend to favour busy, bustling, urban environments as your subject matter. What is it about the city that interests and inspires you?
The turbulence of vast cities like London appeals to my imagination, becoming a challenge to be captured on paper. There’s a sense in drawing of putting a city back together again with the chance to represent things anew, from a different perspective or with a particular emphasis, and from this process – if it works! – comes a confidence, the feeling of a successful coup.
You have quite a unique artistic process – the composition process which led to Lunchtime, Liverpool Street involved days and days spent sketching outside of McDonalds! Could you tell us a little bit more about your process?
I work from life, usually outdoors, standing holding a board and trying to remain inconspicuous. I use ink or pencil on small, separate pieces of paper, joined together on the spot in rows and columns to explore my subject on an expansive scale. I start with a rough idea of how much I want to include and a corresponding size, but I expect and look forward to the drawing developing a mind of its own and leading me somewhere new and unexpected.
What was it that inspired you to become an artist? Tell us a little about your artistic journey.
Growing up in Suffolk art and art departments felt removed from everyday life, taught by people who seemed interesting. It took four art schools to decide – nearly ten years ago – that observational drawing is my metier, and it’s what I do now mainly in London most of the time.
How has winning the Prize affected you and your practice?
It was a huge surprise and very gratifying. I continued with an extra spring in my step.
What advice would you give to artists who are considering entering the Prize?
Practise, practise, practise: then enter.
To enter the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2018, which you must do by 5pm on Wednesday 6 December 2017, visit lps.artopps.co.uk.