Hello, my name is Alex Yarlett, and I am a contemporary abstract/expressive mixed media artist. I’m based in Falmouth but travel up and down the Cornish Coast in search of the best spots to sketch and paint.
Why do you do what you do?
My work is best described as abstract and expressive. I create work that gives you a sense of the location, translating the emotion, the mood, even the wind, in a visual form to capture a visual story of that moment. I focus on the form but also in equal measure the experience on location… it is this motivation that informs my work.
I’m drawn to paint and sketch the Cornish coast as it is there that I find so much life and optimism. When I look at creation and experience the crashing waves and the wind, I often experience a visceral reaction that looks to the celebration of life, awe and wonder. The variation of colours, days and experiences makes the coast such a draw to experience again and again to gain a sense of inspiration and perspective.
The reason I do what I do is firstly and foremost an undeniable desire to create and to paint. When I’m not painting (or when there have been seasons when painting has taken a back seat) there has always been something missing that brings me great life! As a young boy I had set my sights on becoming an artist, honed my craft through school and college and trained at Cardiff School of Art an Design and gained experience apprenticing alongside international artist; Paul Wadsworth.
How do you work?
My process for painting has several stages, from my studio I’ll pack my box of materials, canvases and wooden board and then drive to a spot of choice somewhere along the Cornish coast. I’ll often have an idea of where I would like to paint and sketch but I regularly abandon my plans when I stumble across the perfect spot. Once on location I decant a selection of paints and other materials that capture the colour and emotion of the day into a bag and then head off in search of the perfect little spot to perch. I’ll then sketch, paint, photograph the location, and once I’m happy with the collection I will then head back to the studio.
In the studio I work into some of the pieces painted and use all the inspiration paintings, sketches and notes to start work on larger pieces. My work is a real blend of Au plein air and studio – the reason for this is that each approach draws out different strengths and insights. It really is an evolving process that grows and matures in both the immediate and slow build-up of layers to convey the rich story of the day and moment of each painted location and the individual artwork itself. A once in a lifetime experience that can be enjoyed and treasured for a lifetime.
Do you have a favourite or most inspirational location to paint?
This is a hard question to answer… growing up on the South Coast of Cornwall I have spent more time exploring around there, and as a boy was often caught up in the magnificence of St Michaels Mount. In recent years, I’ve spent more and more time exploring the epic north coast and the rugged and outstanding north coast clifftops. My ‘most’' inspirational place doesn’t come from just one location... it comes from a collection of treasured moments and paintings, there are however a couple of special pieces from both the north coast, Padstow Estuary and South Coast Marazion that are stand out moments for me. Each painting shared with others has a story and inspiration that I treasure and am excited to share with others.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I met up with a mentor of mine a few years back and was chatting through an idea that I had that was pioneering and was a risk. My friend offered three simple words; ‘Go For It!’ It’s incredibly simple but also incredibly freeing… I have applied this principle over and over again and I feel it applies so well to the creative arts. You create from a hunger within, there is also a vulnerability to this as you share your work and experiences with others as the creative process is so subjective and competitive, and when you seek to create you are putting yourself out there – some people won’t like it, some people won’t get it – but the win is the joy and life that it brings to you and to those who ‘get it’ is well worth the barriers and disappointment’s along the way that may prevent sharing yourself and your work with others.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
Professionally my goal is to be able to share my work and painted stories with as many people as possible. I’ll be hosting self-initiated shows, partaking in group shows and showing work in wonderful galleries like Padstow Gallery! Long-term I will be looking for wider and untapped audiences around the world.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I recently sold a piece to an admirer of my work. The new owner shared with me that she often found herself sitting and staring at the piece just taking it in. She was very complementary about my work and the piece. It really is very touching when someone understands and shares in the joy of my work. As an artist, it is one of the greatest joys to be able to create work that is enjoyed and admired… knowing that the piece has a wonderful home for life is brilliant.
What wouldn’t you do without?
My trusted sketchbook and pencil. My sketches are instant and raw… The sketchbooks are most freeing as I regularly seek to capture the essence of the day in a quick 30 second – 5 min sketch. This is the beginning of the creative process for me and without this starting point I would struggle to live without it!
And finally, for fun, what superpower would you have and why?
The ability to fly would 100% be the superpower I would want. This is an absolute no brainer... the ability to travel in an instant would be incredible! Perhaps this comes from finding waiting at airports incredibly tedious... The ability to travel and see the world from all different perspectives has to be up there as the greatest superpower.