Artist in residence
Creative space The sci-fi artist reveals his studio and the bric-a-brac that accompanies him on his travels through unknown worlds
“Welcome to the Temple of my Imagination” says John Harris as he shows us around his light-filled studio.
So, welcome to the Temple of my Imagination. This is where I spend most of my waking hours. At 42 square metres, this T-shaped space is the biggest room in the house.
It has the unusual feature, for a studio, of having a large south-facing glass gable window looking out onto the garden. The long, top bar of the T is the work space, where all my tools, plan chests, drawing boards and painting equipment is. The north wall along the top bar of the T is the place where it all happens. This is where I’ve fixed batons to the wall that serve as an enormous easel.
I usually get into the studio between 9 and 9.30 in the morning, and spend a while pottering around, sorting things out. If it’s winter I’ll light the little woodburner, installing the cat in front of it. All of this is pure procrastination, delaying my approach to the North Face. That’s what I call the wall where I work on my current canvases.
And this is when I discover that the oil paint I left on the palette the night before is no longer usable, and has to be scraped off. But no matter, because in the process I often find interesting colour combinations. By the time I actually get down to applying paint to the canvas, it could well be 11am. An hour later and the dog is crossing her legs and wants a walk.
So it’s 12.30pm or so, before I’m back in front of the painting. It’s 2pm and my wife has returned, needing the odd chore or two to be done. I’m hungry and munch something on the hoof, then go back into the studio at around 2.30-2.45pm for more chewing on my lip to get right what I got wrong in the morning. At 4pm the fire’s gone out, the cat’s complaining, both
An Asian throw I picked up in Granada. It’s there because it’s a perfect evocation of moonlight in discreet colours. The studio would not be the same without the stove and its constant feline companion. I use these pigments in some experimental work that I’ve been doing (see The Secret History of the Earth at www.hiddensun.co.uk). Get a bigger brush! Whenever I start fiddling with artwork, these are to hand. They’re wonderful for liberating a piece. A rolling pin is a very useful way to squeeze the last bit of paint out of a tube. Painting from a distance using long brushes is sometimes essential to get the right values. It also introduces an element of chance, because it’s almost impossible to fully control the brush marks.