David Lake was an extraordinary man to meet and converse with about his work. He was quirky, had years of experience behind him, and had tales that could fill a novel.
The artist has been painting on canvas since March 2004, with his first exhibition a year to the day exactly in March 2005.
COVID-19 did not affect the artistic because through the way he lives, he "self isolates" deliberately. Describing himself as a "loner" he enjoys the quiet time he spends in his studio.
Lake has always drawn since he was a child. He grew up to admire the work of American painter Edward Hopper and then later discovered the work of Australian artist Jeffrey Smart, who he corresponded with.
Lake recounted Smart mentioned to him in a letter that changing from acrylic to oils would "greatly benefit" his work.
"I had to put it aside because changing from acrylics to oils is very different. I have to work a lot more cleanly, it's a lot more deliberate, it's a lot more exacting in a way," Lake said.
Lake later took up oils when he was back in England in 2015-16.
He said you should not touch an oil painting for six months after it is done as the oil may dry on the surface but can still be quite soft.
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Lake paints what grabs him, which is generally the lighting or a colour, and he refuses to do commissions as it seems dishonest to him to paint an interpretation of someone else's vision.
"Very soon after I start [painting] ... there's a moment when a picture happens," he said.
Lake said if he had to give advice to those starting out it would be that the primary part to any occupation is that the person must love what they do and "all necessary direction will follow".
"It's first commitment. The second thing is, and it applies to everything in life, trust what you know, and follow what you know. Be your own judge, don't rely on other people because they don't know," he said.
"They don't know you and the skills you have developed. Find your own way, but believe in it and be happy to make mistakes. You wont learn from successes, you'll learn from errors."
He said though errors are "really loud," you learn a lot from them, just as you do from continuous practice.
To Lake, he sees every piece of his work as a failure, only gauging success through how much silence he finds and the physical aspects he is satisfied with in the piece.
"It really is because I always see something physically but the reason I paint is to find silence. I paint in quiet and I listen to the brush."
To see more of Lake's work visit his website at www.davidlakepaintings.com. He will have a solo exhibition at Gallery Pejean towards the end of May 2021.
Some of Lake's work will also appear in the Gallery Pejean exhibition Small Works, running from November 30 until January 16 2021.