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yay retro! talk Tableware and Painting with Artist John Button
Really pleased that John Button, a fantastic painter based in Stockholm, Sweden has taken the time to talk to me at yay retro! about his inspiring paintings of china cups, pottery teapots and jugs and enamel kettles! I hope you enjoy browsing his work and finding out more...
John, who hails from Lowestoft, has lived in Stockholm with his family for over 12 years. He tells us that apart from attending a couple of life classes, he never trained as an artist. Instead he studied architecture at Brighton and spent many years working on interior design projects, organising exhibitions & special events and also in the world of illustration. He jokes: 'The blatant disregard for perspective in my painting may be seen as a direct response to years of painstaking, millimetre-accurate precision! Who knows?'
I absolutely adore John's loose style and fantastic sense of colour (particularly the addition of orange lines and blocks with the duck egg blue), and asked him where he got his inspiration from, and why he loves to paint? He told me: 'I find inspiration all around me. It can be a particular colour combination, the shape of a vase or jug, pretty much anything. I love the freedom painting allows. It can be frustrating at times but I’m in charge at all stages and when it’s going well, there’s nothing like it.'
John says he has a few lovely pieces of vintage china inherited from his parents – some Wattisfield jugs and pots (Suffolk), and a fabulous Susie Cooper coffee set. Then there are some pieces in his collection which reflects his Swedish life – his favourite being Stig Lindberg’s Berså range.
When making a painting, John tends not to set up formal still life arrangements in the studio, instead he starts by loosely describing a jug or vase and letting a composition develop from there. Working mostly in acrylics, sometimes on canvas but more often on hard surfaces like hardboard or plywood, the sizes of his artwork ranges from the very small right up to metre-square canvasses and beyond.
He is represented by the Roddarhuset Gallery & Galleri Ekvall+Tornblom in Stockholm, Chasen Galleries in Richmond, Virginia USA, the Ashdown Gallery in East Sussex, Bils & Rye Gallery in Yorkshire & Janet Bell Gallery, in Beaumaris, Anglesey. John is also currently launching a new range of greetings cards coming soon through the Illustrated Living website. If you would like to see some of John's paintings in the flesh, he is taking part in a still-life exhibition at Ashdown Gallery at Forest Row this Autumn from 22 September – 10 October.
So I wondered, who are John's painting heroes and why? He came up with this fantastic list which features many of my personal favourites from the 1950 & 60s:
Raoul Dufy & Henri Matisse for their childlike freshness and sense of colour.
Amedeo Modigliani for his unique style (plus what a lifestyle!)
David Hockney for his drawing.
John Piper, Roger Hilton, Ben Nicholson & Joan Eardley for freshness, quality of line and spontaneity
Ben Nicholson, William Scott & Nicolas de Stael for their composition and design.
John's favourite maker of tableware for inspiration is Scandinavian Marimekko. I asked does he have a vintage or retro home, and he explained: 'I have quite an open-plan house from the early 1970s. The interior is quite eclectic with furniture spanning several decades. I think my favourite pieces are two Marcel Breuer ‘Wassily’ chairs which my wife and I rescued from a skip!'
When he isn't painting, John like to play with his children, go running and bake bread. In future he wants to expand his gallery representation, travel more, and maybe hold painting workshops in interesting locations - sounds a brilliant idea.
He tells us that his favourite items currently for sale at yay retro! are the wire milk-bottle holder and the 70s spice jars with stencil lettering 'straight out of an episode of The Good Life!'