Robert West
Contemporary British Painter
Robert West. Into the Forest. In Progress, 200 x 200 cm.jpg

Into the Forest

Robert West Into the Forest Painting Series Overview.

Into the Forest

Into the Forest aims to reflect the World of both past and present, through grande and vibrance motifs of humans in forests around the World.
— Robert West

Q & A Into the Forest

How have you found creating representational paintings rather than abstract ones ?

It has been a slow process, but I believe that the initial results are promising, it has broadened my approach to painting and will enable me to create more dynamic paintings in the future. My experience of both abstract and representational paintings places me in a unique position to build up a strong and expansive representational painting series.

Does your methodology in creating representational paintings differ from creating abstract paintings ?

The beginning of the painting process is different, I start with a photograph or film still that I have found on the Internet or elsewhere and use that as the basis for a painting. There are not many rules to picking an image other than there needs to be a person or people in a forest, and it needs to catch my attention, if it does that is usually has the potential to become a painting.

Have you found this base image for a painting useful or a hinderance ?

For the first time in my career I have an image to work from, to begin with I found it quite restrictive, but after a day of trying to replicate it in some way or another I began to approach the painting the same the way I create my abstract paintings concerning myself with the act of painting, working fluidly but now within the rough framework of the base photograph, refining and altering composition as I go. The painting process allows you to be very inventive with regards representational painting if you choose to be; I believe many painters use the photograph more as a definite end point and this approach to me is too restrictive, I look at the photograph more as a vague memory, something which can be interpreted more loosely, so when I paint I will refer back to it perhaps once of twice a day, this approach allows for much more freedom in the painting process.

Do you believe that the techniques which you have learnt through creating a diverse range of abstract paintings are helping you to create more dynamic representational painting ?

Yes I do. I believe if you want to make paintings which are regarded highly, you need to know a great deal about how to paint in a variety of ways and not just how to paint a singular style repeated time and again; deepened my knowledge pool is something which has been my primary focus since the start of my career. I now possess a comprehensive understanding of the painting language which has been the result of long process of producing my experimental abstract paintings. I have always said the best representational painters where the greatest abstract painters and vice versa, but examples are few in number, those painters operated on a different level, not just in technical proficiency but in how they saw the World and indeed paintings roles within it. I think to produce work in this way and be respected for both my representational and abstract work is something which is a life long goal. 

What are the plans for the Series ?

To create a painting series that is large in number and for the most part large in scale; the series aims to be bold, colourful, compositionally strong and fluid in its execution. 

What are you most looking forward to ?

Getting some of the series finished so that they can be the benchmark for the paintings yet to be created; a lot of people have been interested in the development of the series, the initial few large scale paintings will be finished shortly and I am beginning a few smaller works to see how various techniques translate to this format.

How important do you think being technically proficient is ? 

Its paramount. Technical proficiency is something you teach yourself, because without the skill set you just have ideas, it is you who is solely accountable for what you can and cannot do with oil paints and a canvas. Technical ability is just one major part of the formula, having the base idea for the painting series is also critical in creating the reality of the visual plain you were always searching for; Borderline and Into the Forest has ended that search for me, it has not been an easy process but I am confident that both series will provide the base for me to accomplish much within the field of Painting.