Nicholas Grling 

Being an artists is challenging. You have to be your own biggest fan and take any opportunity to help people discover your own work. It’s important to also not go over the top with self importance. I’m okay with this because it’s all about discovery and relationships. I discover people along the way who are absolute gems.

1. Why Do You Make This Type of Art?

When I feel excited or low or inspired, I create by painting – and when I create, this feeling of being present is prolonged. I have been painting my entire life. I was lucky enough to have a mother who was a part time kindergarten teacher. It was a time when she could take me to her work whilst teaching. Not being technically part of the class, I was thrilled to be in a place where i had complete creative control whilst all the other children were moved from one task to another. I still remember the feeling I had the first timeI saw the storage room where they kept all the art materials. I walked in there and my jaw dropped – I never knew such things existed. Now I’m no crafter, but amongst other things. who doesn’t love a bunch of brand new fluorescent pipe cleaners and a basket of polystyrene balls of different sizes.

2. Why are you drawn to this subject?

I am drawn to abstraction or stylisation because I understand that most of the time the abstract artist is simply trying to be connected and be present with the process of creation. Often the result is simply circumstantial. The stylised nature of abstraction allows me to create in an iconic way and also be present in the moment.


3. How do you choose a theme?

If a theme is iconic inherently – like a city for instance – I really like it because I can represent a city in a wide variety of visual aspects. Every city can be presented in many iconic and memorable ways.

And with abstraction, the concept of theme can be any of the following; Shape, energy, texture, form and flow. These are just to name a few. Abstraction to me is so full of sensory inspirations – and to add something figurative would sometimes overcrowd and detract from the sense of capturing a moment.


4. What Does Your Artwork Represent?

Does your art represent something about you?

Yes, much of my humour and nature is about exploring the idea of ad-libbing. People generally spend so much time either thinking about the future or the past. Art to me is like sport – there is the present and exciting moment and then there is the result at the end of the game.

My art represents acknowledging the present and showing and sharing joy through being creative. The result is not always trying to be pretty – and neither is a game of sport. Sometimes it is though and making a moment beautiful via art is something that I would love to do more often.


5. Does it represent a message about the world?

When I create a print based on a city, it is a stylised snapshot in time and if a new building takes it’s place – then my posters can be thought of as a historical reference. A

Abstract expressionism is now quite an old and well travelled pathway. I’m just trying to be me. It doesn’t make sense right now to combine my personal expression with my political, satirical or social point of view. I often feel that realistic depiction can be the enemy of expression. I would like to create figurative paintings in the near future and I do believe that they would likely add value to my existing abstract works. I love the idea of painting themes which introduce people to abstraction without them realising it.

For example – I created a series of paintings called the “River Series”. These paintings were what I call semi-abstract, because they were a depiction of the surface of water. A tight crop of the surface of water. The result appears to be abstract but in reality, the theme itself is figurative. This allows those who say they “don’t get” abstract art to be advised that it is not abstract in the first place. Everything changes with context. Some people feel more comfortable when they can put everything they see into a neat box in their mind. Who am i to judge.


6. Does it focus on a piece of history or look to the future?

The city prints (found on Printspace®) focus on different aspects of cities from a stylised view point. I intentionally make design decisions to help the artworks look more iconic. But those are still reflections of what cities look like now rather than how they looked before. The idea of the, ‘now’ is fleeting.

My abstract paintings are simply a reflection of the present moment.


7. What Inspires You?

With abstract artworks, I do love much of the art during the early and mid 20th century. Particularly cubism and modernism. I enjoy the graphical and typographical art movements like DADA and the work done at the Bauhaus. I love Japanese ink paintings and typography. I like how I can see that Japanese interiors and art and architecture inspired post war modernism. I love the art they would hang in modernist homes. Homes which were so simple with their minimal lines – then complimented with artworks which were free from constraint. Anything graphic helps tap into my thoughts around the iconic.


8. What connection do you have to your art?

As with most artists, their art is a massive part of their life. If people could only see or understand how it is completely connected to a persons soul, they would snap up every piece they could. I can see why it is important to provide people with context and understanding. I would hope that with my own artworks that you can simply loose yourself in the moment and feel the same joy or determination I felt during the construction. Art reminds me that I am alive. It sounds simplistic but we can get so caught up in our bubbles that we can forget.


9. What motivates you?

When I start a new painting, I intentionally make the first paint stroke without hesitation. It’s like poking the bear. Poking at life. I’m here! You will pay attention to me life. I am communicating with you. You are not just happening to me. I am happening to you. The first brush stroke motivates the second one and so it goes. Knowing when the painting is complete – now there’s a good challenge. It’s like cooking meat. You don’t want to over do it and you don’t want to under do it.

I love it. I’ll be creating art for ever.


10. How Do You Make It?

Abstract paintings: I use acrylic paint and paint onto either linen, canvas, paper or board. What ever I can find. I use brushes, paint knives and I have also invented my own personal painting implement to achieve certain effects. i paint at various sizes and often convert my original paintings into fine art prints.

City prints: I tend to have a glimpse of an idea which gets placed onto paper. I take some time in selecting a font to combine with my illustration. I create a drawing on paper which i believe works with its focus and shapes. i often consider the golden mean and the general process of design and refinement. The last part is colouring. This takes place in the computer where I translate my drawings into vector shapes and do the final composition. The city prints are then reproduced onto lovely fine art cotton rag paper and I use long life inks. They are limited to 100 prints per size.


11. Why do you use certain materials?

For my abstract paintings, I use paint as it is vibrant and immediate. I try to work quickly with paint – even though i often paint in several layers. The paint needs to dry quickly so i can continue to be inspired by the moment.

With my city prints and graphic posters, I combine my off-line drawing with the computer for a balance of customisation with precision. My prints are very precise and tap into my perfectionism nature and my abstracts tap into the moment. i approach both forms of art very differently.


12. What techniques do you use?

The techniques are bold and brash with my paintings. I want to show different levels of energy. I can do this with the quantity of paint and the level of energy when it is applied.

With my graphic prints I am a lot more measured and my prints often are created over many sessions on different days so i am always seeing the picture i am creating with fresh eyes. Cities can take me several months of consideration before I attempt to create something. I often find the places i have been the most difficult to represent.. i do not want to present a city in the way that would be expected. I tend to avoid perspective in most cases as I feel that it can be a gimmick.

While my paintings are sometimes created over many days too, the main thing I am trying to do is show a level of both control and lack of control at the same time. It’s hard to explain in that sense. I often find myself washing off something I have just painted as It does not reflect the feeling or the form. The remnants of the paint can actually add more to the look and feel. So it is very much part of the process and impacts on the textures and colour inter-play.


13. Is there a connection between your process and your artwork’s message?

I don’t tend to create political or satirical artworks art this stage. That in itself is a bit of a popularist gimmick from my point of view. I won’t rule anything out though as art to me is about removing walls rather than pinning anything down. But you have to stand for something. I guess I stand for the open nature of art. I tend to create artworks which are often very different from each other. I feel that if I am just painting the same thing over and over, that I will have lost the battle to remain creative. Yes, you can explore a theme, but some people tend to never leave their safety zone.

I am often testing myself to create something different that is still aesthetically pleasing. I’ve been painting series of paintings recently which helps communicate a message across multiple paintings. Owning one of these means that you support the overall experience.

I liked the way Andy Warhol reflected back peoples interpretation of his artworks right back at them. He never really wanted to explain anything. He just did his art and left the speculation and concluders do their work on their own. That was part of his art. So I’ll leave it to the viewer. What do you see?


14. What Does Your Art Mean to You?

The art is a way of meditating and exploring ideas. A way of being. My own commitment to art is more about a need to create. It is part of my identity. From a very young age of 7 or 8 I and others identified me as an artist. It is what I have always been in terms of my identity. That is why I believe that all artists are essentially self taught. Even if you did a course and someone showed you a technique – you are still the one doing it.


15. How do you interpret the meaning of your work?

Ultimately I interpret the art in three stages.

1. Before i begin, I have a need to express something. It might be a need to express a feeling, show joy or reach out to friends and like minded strangers.

2. During the construction I try to loose myself in the piece. I want to just be. The meaning is completely personal to me. Even if it is a city print or an abstract print – I create what i want to hang in my own home. If others like this then this is an absolute bonus and it helps me to afford to create again. While  do pay attention to the things other people like, I do not let it drive my creative expression. Every artwork I create is authentic and from the heart.

3. After the work is complete, often the focus can be on showing the world. The obvious place is on Instagram because it is quite accessible. But I am aware that my ten or thirty hours of work can just become a quick swipe up for people. So the ultimate way of showing people is by displaying the art at interested galleries, homewares and gift stores or framing stores with galleries. I am happy to have the art on display for sale. I enjoy creating a suite of artworks for the purpose of a group show or a solo exhibition. Feel free to reach out. I wont bite.

There are significant costs involved in organising a gallery exhibition and these can sometimes prohibit works being shown at all. The consequence is that my gallery is often simply my own website. My wife and I run Printspace® which features both of our artworks made into art prints. On this website you will find my original artworks. These are one of a kind originals and are priced to reflect this.

There are people who proudly approach me at markets telling me that they have one of my original paintings and how it is one of their most prized possessions. I love that people can have a very personal connection to a piece of art and how this sense of identity can be passed from one person to another. Art is my part of my legacy. Part of my way that I can say, “I was here.”

Share This