Acrylic, Artist Interviews

An Interview With Automatic Painter Christopher Evans

Following a critical life event in 2017 Christopher Evans picked up a paintbrush and has never put it down. Living with a neurological condition automatic painting is not only a complete joy but also an absolute necessity for Christopher. Typically associated with Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism automatic painting aims to suppress rational thought, allowing the subconscious to take control. We caught up with Christopher to find out more about his painting process and how his work is influenced by his condition.

Tell us about which artists influenced your work and how you started as an artist ?

Christopher Evans - Starwhale (Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm)
Christopher Evans – Starwhale (Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm)

It is not particularly the type of art they paint but how they connect to life through painting. I am a bit like Paul Klee in that I feel he is always seeking something through his painting and is prolific with his work. Frida Kahlo is another inspiration as her work is a journal of life and although I do not do self portraits my paintings are very much a record of where I am in my life.  I love Rose Wylie too as she stuck to her painting style no matter what, along with probably an incredible journey of self discovery to arrive at her style. 

My painting began with trauma, grief and mental health struggles. It emerged from adversity to find a way to re connect to myself.  I had always been interested in painting but I had not painted since I was a small child. I thought I was not good enough and never challenged this belief. In 2017 I woke up with an urge and need to paint and I have not stopped painting ever since. 

You have a condition called Aphantasia, can you tell us more about that and how it influences your practice?

I have a brain condition called Aphantasia, it affects about 2% of the population, and it means I cannot visualise. The condition name was penned around 2006 when a neuroscientist was researching a patient who lost his ability to visualise after a stroke and during research he found out that many people are born with the condition. I have no access to any voluntary imagined inner senses. I have no sense of people or places unless I am there.  My work is all about process. The influence is about consciousness, that even though I cannot access abilities such as visualisation with my brain that there is something beyond this. I believe that our consciousness is separate from our functioning brain and what I paint comes from a mystical and magical place. It inspires me to create and see what comes from me. 

What drives you to create a piece of art?

Christopher Evans - Here I Am (Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm)
Christopher Evans – Here I Am (Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm)

I have a inner need to paint.  Painting is absolute joy for me. I connect to playfulness, fun, my surreal sense of humour for me. It is both spiritual and human. There is something so real and ancient to mark a surface with paint. Painting is everything to me: it would not matter if I never showed a piece of my art I could not stop. 

How do you begin your painting? Do you have a set method or does your technique vary from painting to painting?

All my work is created automatically as I cannot visualise.  I begin with putting paint on a surface, there is not a set procedure as it will differ each time.  It may be my fingers, a palette knife, scrapers or brushes or whatever I have in my hand. There is no intellectual mind mapping out, it comes from within and I just know and just follow my intuition and instincts.  I allow the painting to physically show me what to do next, we co create. I have no concept or idea what it will be, I begin to paint until I stop painting.  

What is your favourite medium?

Christopher Evans - 5 Have A Party (Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm)
Christopher Evans – 5 Have A Party (Acrylic on canvas 50x60cm)

I love a lot of mediums, ink, watercolour, charcoal, found objects, pigment sticks. But my favourite is acrylic paint, I love the physicality of painting, what it does when it arrives on the surface and how it can change its materiality when I work with it.  As my painting emerges I love how the textures of its history and small areas revealing itself to me. I love how working with the paint over time creates its own marks, shapes and surface. I could spend all day just playing with paint, it delights me. 

Which elements of painting do you find the most difficult? Are there any elements that you feel you have yet to master?

The beauty of painting is that you are continually learning, experimenting and evolving. I see painting as life rather than craft. It would bore me, I think, if I had arrived at being a master of life along with painting. I like it to surprise me, tease me and frustrate me. It’s all equally difficult and easy, I would not want it any other way. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

Things On My Mind - Christopher Evans (Acrylic & Spray paint on 70x80cm canvas)
Things On My Mind – Christopher Evans (Acrylic & Spray paint on 70x80cm canvas)

I am very much an advocate of the teaching of CoBrA group where we all are artists.  Do not be put off with what other people say, art is not about being liked it is about expressing yourself authentically. Keep to your own thing no matter what. There is no right way or wrong way, innovate your own path regardless. There are millions of capable competent artists, be something else, be you. Learn to fail as it is the greatest teacher and do not be afraid to share, what people say is more about them than you. 

Keep up to date with Christopher via his website, instagram or facebook

Written by

Liz Griffiths

20   Posts

As a practicing artist Liz actively collaborates with art communities offering demonstrations and inspiration whilst delivering valuable advice to our shop customers. Liz is also responsible for sourcing and meticulously testing new products, ensuring that only the highest quality items are added to our range. She frequently contributes articles, product reviews and artist interviews to our blog. Liz paints mainly abstract landscapes in oil & cold wax, mixed media & watercolour.
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