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Christopher Corr The bold and the beautiful

January 29, 2018

Christopher Corr was born in 1955 in London. He says that his work is all about joy, colour and a love of life and I would very much tend to agree. I’ve admired Chris’s bold style for many years now and was excited when I got in touch with him to discover that he not only liked Fishinkblog but was happy to be featured on my site. The rest (as they say) is history …

Hi Chris, what was your first memory of art / drawing for yourself ? Were your parents artistic and if so was painting positively encouraged during your childhood ?

I have always drawn and painted and I have early memories of scribbling with crayons and playing with paints. My mum really encouraged me to develop my arty skills and I can remember us drawing together. I was given lots of drawing materials to play with. Reading was important too and I joined the local library when I was about 5 and made weekly visits to get new books and return the old ones. I still follow these principals.

Have you any plans for more children’s books ? Textiles designs etc as I think your work would lend itself to these areas very well.

I like children’s books and I have worked on quite a few…..

It’s a tricky & a difficult area but I’ve enjoyed most of the projects I’ve been involved in. My latest book is called ‘The Great Race’ and it’s a retelling of the Chinese Zodiac story. It’s full of animals in a very Chinese hilly landscape. The world has lost track of time and so the Emperor organises a competition for all the animals to compete in. They have to swim across a big river and the first 12 will be the guardians for each year in the cycle of time. It’s quite cosmic.

The previous book was a big anthology of stories from around the world, 52 in total. I love folk art and folk stories and it’s a great way to see the world.

I’ve been working a big textile project which will be launched in the Autumn of 2018 and I can’t say much about it except it has a world theme too. I enjoyed the process a lot and I’d like to do more. Josef Frank is a huge inspiration. I like his playful approach to textile design and his love of colour and natural forms. His NYC map textiles are stunning.

He loves taking on rather large scale commissions too, the one above is of Wartburg, NY and the two below are painted from Parliament Hill in London and Thompkins Square Park in East Village, NY.

I’ve read that you studied Graphic Design in Manchester before you went to the RCA. At what point did your style and palette start to mould itself into the portfolio I see today and when did illustration and painting become important to you as a career ?

I studied art for 7 years, first at Manchester, a Foundation Course, a 3 year BA in Graphics followed by 3 more years MA Illustration at the RCA. I wanted to draw and experiment during my studies. It sounds like a long time but the time flew by. I started to travel and draw as a student, applying for scholarships and competitions to help pay my way. I realised that getting away to new places opened my eyes to new ways to see & draw. There is always so much to see and learn. In my 2nd year at the RCA, I went to the USA for 5 months to travel and draw and see what was happening over there. I drew every day, street scenes, city-scapes, lots of architecture, everything was new and so exciting. I’d seen Paul Hogarth’s urban American drawings and they certainly inspired me, Hopper too and Ben Shahn. There is nothing like traveling and seeing with your own eyes to open your mind.

Where do the colours in your palette derive from as they often look a little Mexican, Jamaican or Trinidadian ( somewhere warmer than the UK anyway lol) ? How often do you paint from life or do you prefer to sketch ideas from life, photographs etc and paint later once your plans for a painting are more established ?

I went to India in 1986 and I discovered colour. It was a truly wonderful and significant moment. A true revelation. Here was pure and rich beautiful colour! I had never seen such pure and intense colours before and it changed me profoundly. It was like arriving on a new planet and one where I didn’t know the rules. Everything was more vivid, more colourful, more crowded, more noisy and stranger than everything I had seen before. And how to draw it ?

I quickly realised that if I sat in an Indian street and started to draw I became a crowd magnet and drawing became impossible. So I started drawing super fast, on foot as I walked, in small note books, in buses, rickshaws, trains but never for too long. It was a good lesson: look hard, draw fast, don’t get comfortable. I tried to record everything I saw in my little sketch books and it changed everything for the better. Sometimes I found a good location to paint from, usually a rooftop or a balcony view where I could work in colour.

It ’s still a way I like to work and nowhere is harder than India to draw on location. It’s sketch book boot camp !

India taught me to love and value colour and to draw fast. I’ve traveled in Mexico and Guatemala, Brazil and Bolivia and Peru, in other parts of Asia and Australia and in Africa too, but nowhere has the intensity and vibrancy of India.

America is all about capturing the upward spaces as well as the ones on eye level.

And why not do that from the air !

What subject matter delights you most to paint ?

Cities are fascinating ! I think cities give me most inspiration. I like exploring and drawing new city-scapes. It’s all the ghosts and new energy, all the lives and all their stories that fascinate me. I want to be a world citizen.

When I was very small I had some of Sasek’s books about world cities. NY and London were my favourites.

Christopher certainly knows how to travel. I wonder how long he’s actually in the UK with all these world experiences lol.

Of course people play a large part in his work. This gardener looks very content in his floral surroundings and I like the texture that all the flowers add to the painting.

Faces, people, busy, busy, busy.

Where would we be without animals too.

Aren’t these big cats fab !

All captured in Chris’s wonderful sketchbooks too. You can just feel the speed at which he has to work to get the information before him down.

These figures are lovely.

Many thanks to Christopher for his time in answering my questions and for sending me some images to use.  I’ve very much enjoyed learning more about the artist behind the art too. You can find works by Christopher to purchase at the Rowley Gallery site. What do you find inspiring about the illustrations in today’s post ?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. alibrookes permalink
    January 29, 2018 7:42 pm

    Wow! Such a treat! I have loved Christopher Corr’s work since the first time I saw his work as a teenager. It’s so vibrant and full of life, and the colours always make me smile and lift my spirits.

    • January 30, 2018 9:25 am

      Glad you liked it Ali, perfect for those dull January mornings too lol

  2. January 29, 2018 7:46 pm

    Wonderful stuff. I love the bold use of colour. The paintings make me want to grab my passport and head somewhere warm and full of vivid colours.

    • January 30, 2018 9:26 am

      Thanks Laura, , certainly more vibrant than Manchester on a dull wet Monday I can tell you 😊

  3. Cindi L permalink
    February 5, 2018 2:27 pm

    Drawing while walking? I’m amazed! Wonderful sense of colors in his work, though.

  4. February 12, 2018 4:44 pm

    Now I so want to repaint my gray living room walls. Luscious, delicious colors, they make me want to run to my kitchen and slice up some oranges.

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