Artist in the Spotlight: Scott Naismith
I think it's the artist's job to make others see the world differently - to question what we perceive the world to be.
Scott Naismith is one of Scotland’s most exciting young contemporary artists. From an early age Naismith demonstrated a great talent for painting and since graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 2000 Scott has been a full time artist.
Whilst he takes much inspiration from the Scottish landscape, his work clearly resonates with people from all geographies. He has had solo exhibitions across the UK and his artwork hangs in private collections across the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia.
With Scott set to become one of Scotland's top selling Scottish contemporary artists, we took great pleasure in getting to know a bit more about Scott's influences and motivations.
Your work is inspired by the landscape of Scotland and those references come across strongly; but there is also a consistent abstraction present through the colouring, gestures and the application of paint. How did you gravitate towards this style? Was this always the way you loved to paint?
I had been a fill time artist since 2000 but between 2010 and 2012, my work became more involved in abstraction resulting in a solo exhibition titled 'Transition'. This had multiple meanings as my work was literally transitioning from the more representational to abstraction.
My skies were, as I described them, transitional, the moment light emerges from overcast. I was also abstracting subjects with an emphasis of how one element of design or composition transitioned to another.
Warmth Emanates II - 60 x 60cm
You talk about the physics of colour and how that affects our perception of the world. What fascinates you about this topic and how does that manifest itself in your work?
I think it's the artist's job to make others view the world differently. In doing this, I'm constantly questioning what I see. Molecular physics does the same.
In the study of particle physics we can go beyond what the eye sees. Colour is a figment of our imagination designed to decipher different wavelengths of light, but only within the confines of the visible spectrum. Our hearing does the same with sound within audible parameters. Our brains decode the world around us in a way which allows us to function within it.
My paintings are not designed for the viewer to function within it, their pupose to stimulate a different response, to excite and ask questions as opposed to answering them.
We cannot corroborate our experience of colour with another of our senses. We can't touch or hear or smell the differences in it.
This makes it ideal for me to experiment with the beauty of colour with the freedom of being realised by my brain's limited perception of it. I often like to think of what we were to see if resonant sound were perceived in colour.
Above Skye I - 80 x 80cm
It seems that the invention of drones has helped you capture some fantastic aerial images of the landscape to work from. I wonder, what did you do before you could take photographs like this?
This is a case of the technology leading the ideas.
At first the drone was simply another way to literally 'look at the world differently' and to expand the possibilities of impossible vantage points.
Laterally the abstract forms that revealed themselves from high altitudes began to resemble mark making I used to describe foreground at ground level bringing about a theme of fractals.
I then went on to produce a body of work I called 'fractal landscape' where altitude became ambiguous. The viewer would then question whether or not it might be an aerial viewpoint or ground level.
You describe many of your studio paintings as having come from an ‘experience’ rather than ‘memory’. Does that mean an individual piece is always routed in a place you've visited or can it be a kind of collage of different memories and places?
One way to describe it would be to say they are 'dreamlike'. When we dream, we are often in a place we recognise, as it is based on what we have experienced.
Most of the time I have no photographic reference in the studio. In doing this, I become more at one with intuition, instinct, conceptual ideas and the process itself.
The photographic image is a spoon fed, limited decoding of reality frozen in time which can act like a ball and chain for creativity.
Do you think the Scottish landscape will always be your muse? Or are there other subjects or locations you would like to explore?
I think artists should paint what the know and love best and until I'm convinced otherwise, that'll remain mostly Scotland's rugged coastlines.
Scott Naismith's work in situ at The Art Agency
Your Youtube Channel has a number of videos aimed at helping other artists, which is fantastic. Do you see yourself being a teacher or a mentor for other artists in the future?
I was a part time lecturer one day a week between 2004 And 2015. I now concentrate my efforts solely on painting.
The platform of youtube allows me to provide teaching free to a much larger amount of people (currently over 28000 subscribers), while I only have to work on it during the rare moments I'm not under pressure for exhibitions!
We hope you enjoyed this insight into the work of a fabulous artist who's work is only going from strength to strength.