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Jason Butler in his studio.

Jason Butler: Process and Discipline


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1. Could you tell us about yourself and your daily routine? What does your day look like and what inspires you to paint?

I live and work in Jersey (Channel Islands) where I am very lucky to have a great studio overlooking St.Helier harbour. I tend to work 5/6 days a week, arriving at my studio at 8:00 and leaving about 5:30. Treating it as a discipline is very important to me as I think showing up every day, whether it is going well or not is key to try to resolve the work.

In the morning I always have a couple of coffees whilst looking at the paintings I will be working on. Normally I work on at least three paintings each day. I have around 50 paintings on the go at any one time so I tend to put a lot of them aside for weeks or months. This allows me to be objective when I get them out again and means I will have little resistance to completely reworking them if necessary. All of these paintings are reworked constantly over a long period of time until they resonate in some way. I have a pool table in the studio which allows me to switch off a little bit if I feel I’m getting too caught up with the work.

I think my main reason for painting is purely down to my love of it as a process and discipline. I was lucky in that I knew very early on as a child that I wanted to be a painter so my love for it has grown more and more as the years have passed. I get to spend every day doing the thing I love, that is all the inspiration I need.


2. What do you want the viewer to gain from observing your artworks?

Particularly with the new work, I want the work to challenge not only from a conceptual perspective but also an emotional one. When I stand in front of a great Manet or Titian for example, I am aware of this object that for a whole host of reasons manages to conjure a whole range of feelings. If I can get anywhere to coming close to that I would be happy. I want the work to challenge not only from a conceptual perspective but also an emotional one. Share on X


3. Could you tell us about Jersey? How has this island shaped you as an artist?

Good question! It has its challenges for sure living in such a small place and where the visual arts haven’t always been the most important part of cultural life. That has improved of late however and there does seem to be more interest now. Some of my very early work was influenced by living on an island and the claustrophic and provincial feelings that can come about as a result. Jersey has been good to me in many ways and when we decided to stay and bring up our daughters here I knew of the pros and cons.


5. Have you thought about exploring other media than painting? What is painting for you?

I played around with different disciplines whilst at college but the process of painting is all consuming for me. Every day I am reminded of how much there is to learn. It is very humbling because I know there will never be a day that I feel I have ‘mastered’ it. I would never rule out making work in different media but I feel there is so much I need to explore with painting. There is also something about the act of painting in the studio every day that I find acts as a kind of oasis compared to the apparent chaos outside. Painting is slow, reflective, quiet. In essence the opposite to most other things in life. I do believe painting still has an ability to say something about life and the human experience that is unique.


6. You are a figurative painter, but your paintings contain elements of abstract art. Have you ever thought of moving to nonrepresentational painting? 

Another good question at this moment in time. The work has been through a number of twists and turns over the last year or so and many of the current paintings are essentially abstract. They always start with figures and a space that emerges from the process but they are regularly obliterated during the making of the work. I am becoming more and more interested in how the figurative paintings are interacting with the more abstract work as they seem to be creating a broader scope in how to relate to it is a body of work. The work has been through a number of twists and turns over the last year or so and many of the current paintings are essentially abstract. Share on X


7. It appears that there’s a trend toward abstract art. Do you feel that way? Why or why not?

I can’t say I have noticed that personally as many of the galleries I visit in London are showing figurative painting. It may be different elsewhere however.


8. What was your biggest struggle and your biggest success as an artist? What would be your advise to young artists?

Although I have had highlights and struggles I actually think the two things go hand in hand. The continuing struggle is part of the success as it is the fuel that keeps you going. To make work that means something over the long haul, you have to just get up and go to work and this will entail plenty of doubt and struggle. Anyone taking it up as a profession expecting it to be about success and fame will more than likely be in for a rude awakening. Even the most successful artists will be going through the same anxieties as everyone else.
I remember reading a quote from Sickert many years ago where he was asked for some advice from a young artist. He said something to the effect that if the young man was still painting in 15 years time then to come back and they could talk. The fact I am painting every day is enough for me, everything else that is deemed a success from a career point of view is a bonus.



Jason Butler in his studio.