"ART IS NOT YOU SEE, BUT WHAT YOU MAKE OTHERS SEE."
Decoding Chris Gambrell pastel mark making fashion moments with Patrick Morgan
"Fashion illustration encapsulates everything I need to stay excited about image making."
PM - When explaining what you do? how do you label yourself to other creatives? I see you as a graphic mark maker/illustrator/Painter/
abstract expressionist? Poly math?
CG- I would probably agree with those terms. It’s shape, colour and movement that excite me more than storytelling within images. I’m always envious of artists who can create narrative but what essentially excites me most when put down marks in whatever medium is the aforementioned. Fashion illustration encapsulates everything I need to stay excited about image making.
PM - What are you tools of the trade?
CG - You may have noticed that I don’t labour over pieces for too long, I like versatile tools with a good degree of immediacy. Decent quality soft or oil pastels are probably my go to tools. I like to draw on the move and capture things quickly, so these are perfect but acrylic on canvas is something that provides a moveable feast, I can lay paint over and over until content with the final proposition.
"I’ve always struggled with the idea of a ‘finished’ piece, it’s all so subjective and using Instagram to air my ideas on what work can look like in a more raw unfinished form has been a curious experiment for me."
PM - where do you find your reference for your work? do you look at the past to inform your work?
CG - If I am drawing from life, it’s from fleeting moments drawing people in parks and cafes, but it’s also an amalgamation of editorial work I see and more classical painting. I love graphical shapes and colours such as typographical work.
PM - I see Bristol pop up on your feed, with Bristol famous for urban art? has the raw textures and marks of street artists shaped some of your expressive marks?
CG - Possibly by osmosis! In my post-student years, I’d sit and fill up sketchbooks around the city. I would then scan drawings and layer them with painted hand made textures in photoshop. I’ve always struggled with the idea of a ‘finished’ piece, it’s all so subjective and using Instagram to air my ideas on what work can look like in a more raw unfinished form has been a curious experiment for me.
PM - I read that you use different approaches to warm up before starting? can you explain and elaborate on this?
CG - It’s a bit like breaking the seal on creativity for me, I start cold, whether I like to admit it or not. I have to go through a few exercises in order to ‘care less’ and shake off some of the intimidation of the blank page.
"When I talk about movement, a lot of that is contained within the marks that go down, usually with speed."
PM - In life drawing we tend to start with a few quick drawings before getting onto a longer piece? whats the longest work you've created and did it end as powerful as the more spontaneous drawings? Like Degas, his quick pastel drawings helped shape his painting? I get this sense from looking at your work? How do you feel about your approaches and do you mix it up?
CG - You’ve hit the nail on the head, I am even at the point where I will limit myself to about an hour maximum, with perhaps the exception of paint which tends to take about twice the time. When I talk about movement, a lot of that is contained within the marks that go down, usually with speed.