Every Day Icons from Arundel-based semi-abstract artist, Andy Waite
Andy Waite is an Arundel-based artist, best known for his vibrant semi-abstract landscape paintings. Nicholas Toovey looks at a different aspect of the artists oeuvre based around figures and human emotions
ANDY Waite was born in Buckinghamshire and after a time in Kent he moved to Sussex. While studying art and design he lived in Findon, spending lots of time on and around the South Downs, with Cissbury and Chanctonbury Rings becoming favourite haunts.
In 1978 Andy settled in Arundel, a place he describes as “an amazing location, you can be up on the downs within 15 minutes and the sea is only three miles away.” He is unquestionably inspired by the surrounding Sussex landscape that has kept him in the county for the last 40 years. The neighbouring countryside is interpreted in sketchbooks later translating into oils on canvas in the landscape paintings that are most synonymous with his name.
Although landscape has been his main output, Andy has always been interested in life drawing, which he undertakes in a swift and spontaneous way. It would be easy to assume that his Every Day Icons are a progression from these figurative sketches, but in fact they were created as a deliberate separate series. Informed by his other works and influenced by his trips to Italy, these icons were made with the concept that anyone, not just religious figures, might be revered or regarded as sacred.
The faces depicted are based around friends or family and radiate a range of emotions from quite dark to joyous. “Some are searching, others yearning, some have found contentment in the moment. All are being honoured no matter what their state of mind,” says the artist. Whilst he paints the images around these specific feelings, the emotions sometimes change during the painting process. Once completed, Andy assimilates the works for a few days, titling them appropriately as suggested by the painting itself.
The comparison to iconography is born from Andy’s palette, which echoes those used in Byzantine and Renaissance portrayals of religious figures. These were often embellished with gold leaf which, due to the inherent cost, was reserved for the holiest elements, such as halos.
Ultramarine blue was a similarly expensive colour due to the main ingredient of lazulite and the difficulty of extracting the strong blue from the mineral; as a result, this was often used for the robes of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ. These colours were intended to lead the eye of the viewer to the key elements of the religious works when contrasted with earth colours like ochre and umber.
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The supports of Andy’s paintings vary from modern boards to reclaimed wood, sometimes with several pieces adhered together to make a single panel, those left unfinished artificially age his contemporary interpretation of a tradition that started in medieval times.
The series of Every Day Icons exemplifies the artist’s handling of the human form and Andy’s ability to illustrate unequivocal emotion. He portrays these feelings with an inimitable softness and subtlety. Ultimately, it is this sensitivity that makes the work so extremely engaging and distinctively his own.
SEE THE WORK
Andy is holding a Christmas exhibition at Painted Ark Gallery, 57 Tarrant Street, Arundel, BN18 9DJ, featuring his icons and more characteristic landscapes along with sculpture by Lawrence Dicks. It opens with a preview on Saturday, 3 December from 12 noon-6.00pm. It then runs from 4-11 December. Opening times are 11am-5pm, apart from 7pm on Saturday, 10 December. For more visit www.andywaite.net Andy can be contacted on 01903 882889 Nicholas Toovey runs the painting and book departments at Toovey’s Antique & Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers in Washington, West Sussex.