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Michael Sibley

When I was 10 years old my primary school teacher asked us to bring in an every-day object from around the house that we were going to transform into a work of art; my mum handed me a rusty iron and I decided to turn it into a landscape painting.  Rather than just slapping on the paint, I instinctively started to build the image using layers of tiny dots and dashes.

The painting session came to an end as I was only just getting started, but my teacher was intrigued by my dotty iron and let me carry on for the rest of the day and most of the next.  Not only did this serve as a welcome break from the monotony of the school routine, but I discovered that there was something about the process of weaving together layers of marks that could magically transform the mundane into something rich and beautiful.

I completed a foundation course in Art and Design in 1998 then started a BA Hons in Fine Art at Falmouth College of Arts in 2000. The journey I had started 10 years earlier with the rusty iron continued to evolve into what could be considered the visual language of my work; richly textured surfaces, bustling layers of intricate marks and the merging of needlework drawing and painting. The process of creating an artwork had become almost meditative for me, and the end result, a tangible expression of the dimension of beauty I could find in most places if I looked hard enough.

As my final degree show approached in 2003 I relished the process of making paintings as much as ever, but was unsure of my place in an art world made up of Damian Hirsts and Tracy Emins, if such a place even existed.  To my surprise the majority of my paintings sold on the opening night, and amidst the excitement, I began to consider that life as a professional artist might be possible. For the next 10 years I had the privilege of painting full-time, developing my style in new directions and selling my artwork to people who seemed to connect with it in a meaningful way. 

As the seasons of my life changed, the pressures of paying for children, a mortgage and all the other things that come packaged with modern life, were starting to build. With paintings taking weeks if not months to complete, the economics of being an artist were not adding up, leading to more and more compromises; I found myself reproducing best-sellers and speeding up my workflow however I could.  I wasn't a starving artist, but by 2013 I had found painting ceased to be meditative, it was tiring and stressful; what some people call a 'proper job'.

I have always been interested in technology and coding and enjoyed building websites for myself and friends, so when I made the decision to stop painting for money my progression to fully fledged web developer was fairly predictable.  It was clear to me that painting under pressure was not good for my mental state or artwork, so I made a conscious decision to put it on hold until I was in a position to be creatively sincere again. 

Between then and now I have painted infrequently but when I have it has been without compromise, and in my opinion much the better for it.  I am currently working on a new project which brings together two things I love, coding and painting, in a way that I hope will be both beautiful and useful.  Full details will appear here by the end of summer 2016.

If you want to get in touch then you can email me at mich@elsibley.com.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my work and I hope you enjoy it!