Fintan Whelan is an Irish painter based in Germany, whose works have been exhibited throughout Ireland, the UK and Germany. Intrigued by the challenges of art, he seeks to capture the dynamic details of light and texture, and composes abstract pieces that evoke a plethora of varied emotional responses. Whelan harnesses the visual imagery of his memory to form the essence of his canvases, and undertakes a closely engaged technical process in which constant examination, measurement and reconfiguration push each work forward. Discover his daily routine and artistic practice, as well as his beautiful abstract works in this exclusive interview.
Hello Fintan! What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I brew coffee to begin the day. I always walk an hour before going to the studio. It’s a way of getting focused; one of the great overlooked superpowers we have is that, when we get up and walk, our senses are sharpened. By the time I get to my studio, my head is clear and ready to start work. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche memorably said that “only thoughts reached by walking have value.”
What inspires you to create every day?
Every day for me is a journey into a continuously evolving way of seeing the world in all its beauty and mystery. I aspire to first challenge myself and then the viewer of my work, encouraging myself to look deeper into my canvases and have a visual experience that’s more reliant on my senses rather than on our over-exposed digital image world.
What does your work space look like?
I’m lucky enough to have found a new studio where I not only have beautiful working spaces for painting but also extra rooms to store, stretch and pack my artworks. When my studio illuminates in the morning sun, there is really no better way to start the day.
Describe the core of your technique or style.
I normally start a painting with a sense of urgency- to seize on an idea before it escapes, to respond to the first layer of paint on a white canvas. The process, step by step, slows down with hours of contemplation and days of leaving an artwork in peace before working meticulously on it again. This dialogue or collaboration evolves into a working relationship between me and my canvas.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
Large canvases, paint/pigments, and time without distractions to paint and reach for the stars!
How do you know or decide when an artwork is finished?
Keeping the vitality and energy of a painting is my main motivation when deciding whether a painting is finished or not but that can be sometimes difficult to decide. Instinct, experience, and making a few mistakes along the way have helped me in this.
What do you like to do to unwind after a day’s work?
I like to spend time mostly with my family.
What’s your overall favorite aspect of the creative process?
The challenge of accompanying a blank canvas from its very beginnings to becoming a finished work of art is magical. Also being able to experiment, try out new ideas and seeing the results are fascinating.