Michael Corr is an award-winning contemporary painter from Scotland. He works primarily in the medium of painting and drawing. Corr trained as a Graphic Designer, but had a primary interest in expressive art, which has developed into a unique and powerful style. We caught up with Michael to chat about his journey as an artist, the materials he loves, and why Daler-Rowney paints work so well in his practice. Watch the video below to see him in action then read on to find out more!
Thanks for taking the time to talk Michael! Could you tell us a bit about your creative journey so far?
Hello! Thank you for inviting me to answer some questions. I’m a painter / mural artist, based in Central Scotland and live with my wife, Nikki (a designer) and our two furry pals (Frankie & Raj).
I’ve been creating as long as I can remember and when I was old enough, I was very lucky to get into art school in Dundee. I learned so much about art & design as well as myself. I also met my wife there, Nikki.
In 2010, I graduated with an BDes Hons in Graphic Design and really enjoyed the course, but I knew I wasn’t a Graphic Designer at heart, so I picked up the pencils and brushes again. Nikki and I lived in Dundee for almost 10 years and we both fondly think back to our wee flat and amazing studio spaces. I worked part -time as a postie as well, which was ideal, as it meant I could finish up by the early afternoon most days and could paint the rest of the day/ evening.
In 2014, we moved from Dundee to Alloa (Central Scotland) and we’ve been here ever since. It’s a lovely wee place, where we built a garden studio for me to work in- and although it’s small, it has everything I need. We have a beautiful garden (we got married there too!) with our furry pals running around. It’s a special place.
I do a lot of my paintings / commissions here, but over the past couple of years, I’ve gone full time with my artwork and have also been painting large murals out and around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. I’m just back from Palm Springs (California) where I painted a large mural of Nina Simone.
The figures in your work come from a variety of sources, pop culture, artists, political figures. How do you select your subjects?
Yes, there is an eclectic mix of figures in my work- I gravitate towards people that inspire me / feel a connection to.
How would you say your training as a Graphic Designer has influenced your practice?
Massively! Studying Graphic Design gave me an insight to layouts, grids and concepts as well as learning and practicing the essential tools to market and brand my art once I Ieft art school.
What is it about System3 acrylics that you love using in your work?
I started using acrylics a couple of years ago and wish I’d started sooner! They are so versatile as they can be applied as thick or thin as well as for smooth blending. You can also add water as well as other mediums to change the viscosity of the paint. I love how they dry quickly too- it encourages spontaneity. To note, they are free of toxins, so you can use anywhere really. Just don’t wear your best clothes when using!
And what are some of your other go to materials?
I work in a few mediums: oils, acrylics, pastel/ charcoal and watercolour- they are all awesome and I often alternate depending on the work. Last year I was introduced to spray paint, which I’m still getting to grips with, but am loving this medium and the results!
We’ve just got to talk about your use of colour! How do you make the choices with your palette?
Haha- I love colour so much! It really depends on what I’m working on/ feeling at that point in time. Colour has a huge affect on us all emotionally. I’m inspired by colour palettes all around me: from nature to urban.
There is such a fluidity to your mark making, could you talk us through your mark making process – how do you ‘find your flow’?
Mark making is a personal process- again, it really depends on what I’m feeling at that point in time- it’s what makes everyone’s work unique. Flow is so important, especially when you are trying to create something from nothing. To get here, I just have to let go. Music / Podcasts really help me do this. I would highly recommend “The Blindboy Podcast.”
And finally, what’s coming up next?
More painting I hope! 2020 has some very exciting projects on the horizon, some are collabs with Daler Rowney too, so keep your eyes peeled. A few of my mural projects have been postponed due to the current Covid-19 crisis, but I’m very fortunate to have my studio at home (and do most of my commission correspondence via email) so luckily I’ve been able to carry on with that side of my practice. I’m keen to experiment with sharing painting via live video - so hopefully that’s a way to stay connected while we’re all apart.