Originally from Ontario, Jeremy Price moved to Montreal in 2008, now one of his favourite subject to paint. Objects of all kinds, precious moments spent with his loved ones or his escapades in nature are also sources of inspiration for the artist. The images are fleeting moments, snapshots from a life that has a habit of moving too quickly sometimes.
We asked the artist 5 questions to get to know him better, here’s what he told us!
Which artist has influenced your artistic practice the most?
I won’t be able to pick just one artist here, so here are 22!
Over my life different artists have influenced me in different ways and at different times, so I guess I’ll start from the beginning…
Growing up I was surrounded by the work of a lot of contemporary Canadian artists. I should take this opportunity to thank my parents for that. The work of these painters definitely hold a firm place in my heart. Alex Colville, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Riopelle, Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson, Jack Chambers, and Greg Curnoe are the first that come to mind. They all had a huge influence on me and my opinion and understanding of what art ‘was’ and I have a strong emotional connection to many of their paintings because of this to this day.
Then, while attending art school I became interested in the work of other artists, such as Edvard Munch, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, George Grosz, Francis Bacon, and David Hockney. A wide range of styles and eras, but each was influential in their own way.
These days I pay a lot of attention to art being produced by contemporary painters. Thanks Instagram for making this easy to do, but really… Instagram is a horrible place to look at paintings. Go see them in person any chance you get. My current favorites include some of the work being done by Alex Kanevsky, Christian Hook, Jose Luis Cena, Jeremy Mann, Costa Dvorezky, Carlos San Millan, Tibor Nagy, Sebas Velasco, and Mark Tennant
There, that’s 22.
Why and when did you decide to become a professional artist?
It all kind of started a little over 10 years ago. At this time I’d been taking a lot of pictures.. a LOT of pictures… while biking around the streets of Montreal. I always had my big clunky SLR Nikon with me in my bag, and I’d go way out of my way to explore and photograph different streets and neighbourhoods. I loved the morning light and would head out super early just to be in the right place at the right time, I also liked taking night shots and would go out after dark to do the same. As you can see, I had a lot of energy back then!
After that, one day I stumbled across the paintings of Kim Cogan on the internet, a San Francisco painter who was doing some amazing streetscape paintings that reminded me a lot of the photos I’d been taking. I think i found them on the Vancouver based art blog Booooooom.
Painting was something I had continued to muck around with a bit over the years after art school, but I had never put much time or effort into it.
So with renewed enthusiasm and 6 small 16×20 canvases I began working on a set of Montreal streetscapes, and that’s where it all began. I should mention that right around the same time I also thought I was going to learn to play guitar, but quickly felt it was important to focus on one thing and put all my energy in it. That was the end of my guitar playing. Sorry Neil Young, you tried.
What do you want people to remember about your work and your work as an artist in general?
That’s a good question, and not one that I often ask myself.
Over the past 10 years my work has changed and evolved quite a bit, in style, in subject matter. Most importantly, I think it should continues to evolve because art if it’s meaningful is an extension of the artist, and we as people continue to change and evolve, or at least we should. Growth is in our DNA.
Every painter has their inspirations and the thing that’s driving them paint. For me it’s the stuff around me. Therefore, the people, the places, the life that I’m living, the experiences I’m having, good or bad, that will ultimately find their way into my work. It’s not unlike a journal or a diary in many ways.
It didn’t start this way. In the beginning I was really focused on ‘learning to paint’ and so often the subject matter was secondary. I would find a scene or a location that I found attractive and just paint that. I was more focused on learning how to get the colours I wanted, and figuring out a process I was comfortable with. (Which has also evolved a lot over the years.) Painting, like anything is about 10% ability and 90% hard work, and I worked really hard to get comfortable with it.
I’m still learning, every day, which is one of the amazing things about it. Luckily it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey, because painting is only journey, no destination.
Then, a few years later my approach to subject matter and narrative in my work began to change. They became and continue to become increasingly important. Recently, I think my work has become increasingly personal. Maybe I shouldn’t say ‘narrative’ because for me it’s not really about telling a story, but simply asking a few questions, both to the viewer, and to myself. Evoking an emotion, expressing a feeling, this is a form of communication.
In other words, my work, individually and as a whole, is a continuous dialogue that I’m having with the audience, but also with myself.
A few weeks ago I was discussing some things over a beer with a friend of mine, feelings, challenges and such. His advice to me was to ‘paint it out’. I love that expression, and I guess that’s what I’ve been doing this entire time. Painting it out.
Do you have a particular ritual of creation?
Definitely! There’s a few…
The first involves the process – I usually work in ‘bunches’, meaning that I’ll have a few paintings on the go at the same time. This is because oil paint takes time to dry and although I like working wet on wet, it can’t be TOO wet. Therefore, I like to be able to put them aside for the layer to ‘firm up’ a bit before continuing. They all grow in series of layers. Layers that begin as fast loose gestural and messy, into smaller, tighter, more controlled passes. This process is always evolving over time, however that’s how it’s going at the moment. Ask me again in a few months!
I started keeping a painting journal a few years ago, a small Moleskin notebook with different notes on process, ideas for titles, who won the football game… You know important stuff. It began because I was very interested in documenting my process, and so wrote down all of my stages for each painting I was doing. What was in the layer, how I ordered them, how I applied them. I soon realized that process was a moving target, and should stay that way. It’s not something you ever want to constrain or systematize. I find it doesn’t matter what you think it is you think you’re going to do; paintings always wind up painting themselves in the end.
Additionally, I always listen to music while I’m painting. I’ve got constantly changing playlist of about 1000 songs on shuffle that is about as eclectic as it comes. Sometimes I’ll listen to an album straight through, or a particular genre of music for a while, but I usually paint for around 3-4 hours at a time so like to mix it up musically.
Sometimes I’ll sing along, sometimes I’ll dance. Not very well, either of them.
Painting is an incredibly solitary activity and music makes it a little less isolating.
Finally, on Sunday nights I’ll always put on Strombo’s 4 hour CBC Radio Show. I’ve been listening to this show since I started painting and have been introduced to so many new bands this way. It’s also an extremely eclectic mix so it fits perfectly.
Besides painting, what is your favourite hobby?
I love riding my bike. Love it. Unfortunately in Montreal this is only possible about 7 months of the year but those 7 months are pretty great. I live along the canal in St. Henri and the ride along the water from here to downtown is probably my favourite part of the entire city.
In addition, I love seeing live music, from the big festivals at park Jean Drapeau all the way to the little open mic Sunday nights at Bar de Courcelles. Seeing music live is great. Is watching music a hobby? Whatever, why not!
Also, I recently borrowed a keyboard from my uncle Richard and have been learning some simple songs… Hopefully it lasts longer than the guitar playing.
I’ve also always enjoyed cooking and a few years ago started doing some canning in the fall. Pickles, tomato sauce, that kind of stuff.
In the summertime I like bbqing… so there’s that too.
Biking, music, cooking, canning… Wait, you said favourite hobby… I can’t decide. Let’s just say all that stuff!