Scott Everingham is a Toronto-based painter. He has a BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax and an MFA from the University of Waterloo. A 3-time RBC Canadian Painting Competition finalist, his other accolades include awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. His work has been exhibited in Canada, Denmark, USA and the Netherlands.
I consider painting to be like a chess match. You have the challenge of a surface, a material you’ve mixed and you have to make crafty decisions to come out the victor. I don’t always succeed. There’s some works that I’ll never show because I approached them mentally as warm-up pieces. You make those, and then bigger things happen.
The biggest change in my work was mid-2013 before my show at General Hardware Contemporary. Those pieces were pretty big, maybe 70 x 90″, with smaller brushwork. There were a lot of little things happening in those big pieces and I love those small relationships. It’s a small conversation about the whole environment.
I started doing little works on paper and it allowed me to draw the audience into those sections. I was able to scale up the brushes and zoom in. I’m also simplifying. I put restrictions on the number of brushstrokes or time spent on a painting. Those restrictions are essential.
I always paint wet on wet. They’re one day paintings. I don’t go back onto it after a second day, so it’s quite instant. When I went to Spark Box Studio in Picton, I started painting in the studio before unpacking my luggage. I had 3 or 4 done by 9pm and then I went inside to meet everyone. I worked like that again, for two more days. Because I was working in oil, I had to drive back from Picton with these paintings taped all over the inside of my car–on the windows, the door.
I work on one painting at a time. A lot of my previous work was heavily influenced by what I was reading. I would create a body of work based on a text or fictional novel and the paintings would become like short stories too. Now, I’m not interested in tying my paintings together with a narrative. I’m more interested in tying them together with the process, the colour and paint itself.
I decide on my palette before I start. I create space and environment before making any marks at all. Some of the marks are made quickly, and others I let drag and drag. I use mark-making as a meditative experience.
As a painter, you’re not only learning about your process and your material–you’re learning about the peripheral things around you that come into view. That’s become important for me. I realized that my work isn’t about a narrative, space or environment. It’s about my mark-making motion and the act of doing it.
I’m interested in having this moment that’s very immediate. It’s just a sliver of time. I feel like the brushstrokes are living. It’s a brushstroke that has a kind of life. It’s existing and living so I rarely use any form of erasure. It’s not necessary to cover up mistakes because I try really hard not to make any. I focus on decisiveness and commitment.
The approach is still rooted in abstraction, without a definitive idea. There’s no plan before I start, so it’s a lot of fresh decision-making as I go. I sketch to work out ideas. The sketches ramp up when I want to be creating a lot of work. It’s not like I’m sketching on the fly, carrying my book around with me, in a coffeeshop or whatever. It’s a way to deal with the anxiety of not producing work, the productivity downtimes. That time is the worst.
–Scott Everingham, as told to Studio Beat
photos by Ryan Van Der Hout
Visit Scott Everingham’s website here.