Manchester, So Much to Answer for...
Whenever I used to walk around Manchester I would get so very excited by many of the buildings, streets and skylines I saw that I at least wanted to photograph them,, but more specifically craved to capture some of that emotionally stimulating impression I perceived in paint where I can represent more of it and less of the physical actuality the camera records. This is less true now as the powers that be destroy more of the city's unique heritage and replace it with bland, nondescript, contemporary buildings which will eventually make it pretty much identical to every other medium-sized provincial city: the urban equivalent of a MacDonald's or Starbuck's interior.
I am self-taught and the style of my paintings is the distillation of a long and protracted history which involves encounters and experimentation with various artistic influences. My earliest paintings were mostly an attempt to reproduce what I saw, as though I was a human camera; yet as I became more interested in all different kinds of post-impressionist painting, I began to play around and experiment, which I found I enjoyed a lot more than painting just what I saw, as anyone with any sense probably would. During this period, I guess decisions were made on a kind of subconscious level which mixed all of these different influences and things I'd been exposed to. Mostly, I enjoyed painting expressionist type paintings in which I was more concerned with emotional catharsis and swirling paint around in a kind of adventurous delight than anything else; yet there was still a part of my brain hooked into this data bank of influences that was rather tenuously managing, or sometimes merely trying to manage, the whole process. This whole history is relived again in each painting I do, in that, my natural instinct is to start painting what I see, but then whenever I catch myself doing this, I go off on a rebellious tangent and allow myself a more interesting, Dr Seuss-cat-in-the-hat-type derangement instead, whilst still, now almost subconsciously, certainly at least subliminally, making directorial decisions about the process that tap into the influences and emotional experiences alluded to above. After laying down the groundwork in this way, I then return to the painting after leaving it a while and then get into the next stage which means changing parts of it and working on its final veneer, in an altogether more consciously studious manner. Sometimes this business can go on for a long time, and I may not return to a painting until many months, even years, later. One of the biggest influences on my work was the French-Belarussian expressionist painter Chaim Soutine, hence the photograph below.
Michael Gutteridge at the grave of the expressionist painter Chaim Soutine in Paris 2005