Interview: Mixed Media Artist Neal Griffin

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Neal Griffin, a mixed media artist that works in both 2D and 3D with a variety of mediums including oil, pencil, printing, soapstone, clay and plaster of Paris. Art has always been Neal’s main hobby and interest and he enjoys utilising different mediums.

 

“I like the different effects you can get. If I see a photograph I have taken, I can determine what will work best”

 

Background

At Anglia Ruskin University Neal studied Graphic Arts and Illustration in which he experimented with printmaking techniques such as etching, lino and screen printing.

The images below show some of Neal’s early experimentation during his degree at university:

 

Fossil Fish etching 

Car Screen Print

Mixed Media painting

During his years as a student, Neal would paint and draw animals at home. Wildlife has always been the prominent as the subject of his artwork. After university Neal decided to focus on wildlife full time.

‘Rhino’ – Ltd ed Lino print, 2019

Art Societies

Neal was a member of Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) for many years. The Southern Nature Art Exhibition took over after MIWAS disbanded in 2014. Within the interview, we discussed the importance of the artist community. Neal explained how participating in exhibitions is a good way to receive feedback as well as see the work of other artists, with live demonstrations proving helpful in engaging visitors.

Other societies Neal is involved in include The Wildlife Art Society International, Romsey Art Group and the Southern Ceramic Group. In the past five years, Neal has expanded his media experimentation, to include sculpting in clay. His sculpture of a Walrus was shortlisted for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020.

‘Walrus’, 2020

Self-improvement

Good artists learn, grow and develop their artwork over time. Neal is always looking at his work and thinking what he could have done better and pushing for improvement. The first time he was accepted into David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year was for his painting of two Rhinos on turquoise which is also one of his favourite pieces.

‘Rhinos’, 2018

Travel

Neal’s Aunt and Uncle were involved in a charity that helped to raise money to build an orphanage in Utange, Kenya. They also set up their own charity to raise money to build a school. He has been out to Africa on a number of occasions to see the orphanage and the school for the community and the kids that have benefited from the charities help.

Noah’s Ark Academy in Utange, Mombassa 2015

This photo shows Neal with his aunt and uncle who started up a charity and raised money to build 3 classrooms, a wash block and an office.

 

When visiting, he goes on safari and has used his photography from these trips as a reference for his artwork.

Neal’s reference for ‘Staying Alert’ taken in Tsavo West, Kenya in 2013

Neal Griffin’s Artwork

‘Staying Alert’ Oil painting, 2020

(This will be on display at the Southern Nature Art Exhibition 2021)

Neal reused a previous piece of work and re-purposed it for this oil painting of a Zebra, rethinking the canvas.

 

Wildebeests crossing a river, 2017: “Within this painting I counted over 250 Wildebeests”

 

Working in layers at a time helped Neal accomplish this painting. Starting from the top and working his way down from the wildebeests on the bank and then in the water, Neal explains how working from the background to the foreground helps create depth in his paintings.

 

‘Mother & Calf’ Graphite on handmade paper 2020

(This will be on display at the Southern Nature Art Exhibition 2021)

 

Created using a water-soluble graphite pencil and coloured pencil of a cream and white colour palette on handmade paper. Neal used graphite to sketch out the elephant and added a watercolour effect by applying water. Neal uses handmade paper, picking up various papers that appeal to him explaining how the rough appearance of the paper works well for elephants as the subject matter.

 

Advice to other artists wanting to go professional

“If you are selling well as a hobby and have the funds to take the step forwards, going full time may be an option. However, be aware that it might not happen or take off straight away. A friend once told me it takes about four years until you become established, it doesn’t happen overnight, so you have to be prepared. If you are not selling a lot, you need an alternative income stream in which workshops and demonstrations may assist in financially supporting your artwork”.

 

What does the future hold for Neal Griffin Art?

Working as a mixed media artist Neal often has multiple projects underway in which he can switch between. After the difficult period of Covid-19 in which lots of events were cancelled this summer looks busy for Neal and other artists within our community.

 

“I have all these ideas in my head of what I want to do but I have to pick and choose what I do as I go along”

 

 

Many thanks to Neal Griffin for participating in this interview. Please see the links below for additional information and to view more of Neal’s work.

 

Artist links:

View Neal Griffin Artist Page: https://southernnatureart.com/neal-griffin/

Neal Griffin website: https://nealgriffinart.co.uk

 

Social media:

www.facebook.com/nealgriffinart

twitter.com/nealgriffinart

www.instagram.com/nealgriffinart

 

Additional links:

The charity for the orphanage: https://utangeorphans.org 

The website for the charity Neal’s Aunt and Uncle set up: https://makeadifferenceschoolsmombasa.org.uk

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation: https://davidshepherd.org/wildlife-art/wildlife-artist-of-the-year/ 

 

 

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