Will describes his dazzling and atmospheric oil paintings as ‘snapshots of moments in time.’ Referencing American cultural tropes of the 1960s and influenced by artists including Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper, his images are cinematic in scope and decidedly meta in conception; ultimately, they are concerned with observing the observers. Time and again we encounter characters behind cameras, from relentlessly snapping paparazzi to filmmakers lining up a shot, or simply members of a crowd recording their memories at a ticker tape parade. Each beautifully lit tableau invites us to think carefully about how we look and what we see by offering us a choice of perspectives - our own, or that of the players in the scene.
Many of Will’s works are concerned with the film industry; his subjects range from movie making to sitting in a car at a drive-in, or they may even pay homage to a powerful scene, a fleeting moment, or even a mood that has stayed with him after watching a particular film. His recent work has included some arresting portrayals of movie sets which are inspired directly by behind the scenes shots of old films – fascinating and individual images which are unlike anything else in galleries at the moment. He sets up each scene he paints, booking the right venue or setting, using a full cast of characters and carefully selected handmade props, and of course creating the all-important lighting, before engaging in lengthy photo shoots as well as in sketching and painting from life.
Although his subject matter changes constantly, Will’s style is consistent across his work, from crowd scenes to portraiture. He himself places it somewhere between realism and impressionism, saying “I like my work to have a level of realism until you get close and you can see its really quite loose. My paintings are often idealised and always entirely staged using the people around me as models. I see myself as the director, shaping my chosen scene until I am happy and then using this as groundwork to start painting. My focus is on structure and gesture, colour and composition and always seeing the paint at work when you get close."
Will’s artistic evolution was a logical progression from a creative childhood immersed in comic books and Disney characters via illustration and realistic portraiture to selling his first painting on the advice of an Art lecturer at university. That painting was seen by a major British gallery and Will took the first step on the career path which he is now treading with ever-increasing success. His work now features in numerous galleries and collections around the world: the owner of the largest cinema chain in India personally chose many of his pieces for the walls of his theatres, and they also appear in high end hotels, as well as in the collections of in the collections of Hollywood film makers and Musicians. He is an active philanthropist too and over the last decade has raised significant funds in association with the 2012 London Olympics, Lloyds Banking and the Bobby Moore Fund, as well as working with smaller independent charitable enterprises.
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