If you’ve been out and about in Wallington on a Friday recently you may have come across a painting left on the street. Did you walk past or stop for a closer look?
For the past couple of months, Carshalton artist Doug Shaw has been leaving paintings for people to find. Completely self-taught, Doug chronicles his artistic process on his blog, Artsensorium.
I caught up with Doug to find out what inspired him, how he learnt to let go and why he likes living in Sutton.
How did the idea for your free art drop come about? Leaving free art for others to find is not a new idea. I was aware of an American artist who drops art in towns and cities where he works, so I decided to give it a go. It took me a while to find the courage to start.
What was your motivation? I like giving stuff away. I frequently buy books as gifts and this art idea felt like a natural progression of that.
I wanted to learn more about how it feels to let go of something. I have no idea what happens to the art after I’ve placed it. It may find a new home, it may blow away, it may end up in a bin. I don’t know, and I’m beginning to get used to the feeling of just leaving it.
I also like the fact that giving art away encourages me to make more art.
What kind of response have you had? So far the response has been minimal. Although I sign all my work, I don’t provide contact details so tracing the art back to me is not easy. A few friends have suggested I make it easier for people to find me. That may come later, for now I’m happy to leave the art and just see what happens.
One person has seen me leaving art and made the connection to an earlier piece that they found. It was nice to find out that someone has liked and held on to one of the pieces.
What inspires your work? Current themes I’m exploring are movement, transition and impermanence. I like to blend colours and see how different shifts in tone occur.
I’ve also been experimenting with capturing the briefest of relationships, the glimpse of another person we pass on the street. My art is abstract, so the themes can be quite fluid.
Of the art you’ve given away, what’s your favourite piece? When I first started I had very little confidence so I played it safe with a painting of a single poppy. As I’ve got more comfortable with the experiment I’ve relaxed into it a little more. My current favourites are the pieces from weeks three, five and eight.
What does the future hold? I intend to keep the experiment going. I may start to broaden the area where I leave the art, perhaps to take in other locations in the borough. I may start to include a Twitter handle or some other form of contact information, too.
What makes Sutton a great place to live? The frequent trains to London, where I do a lot of my freelance consulting work. I run creative problem-solving workshops, Art for Work’s Sake, which help businesses use art to find ways to work better.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Sutton? I love walking, so the open space is important. The lavender fields are lovely in the summer. I walk in Nonsuch Park, Oaks Park, Beddington Park, Carshalton Park, Wilderness Island and occasionally I follow the Wandle Trail towards London. I’ve been fortunate to see a few kingfishers along the river, one of them became the subject of one of my earliest commercial sketches, A Flash of Blue.
Where are the best places to eat and drink in the borough? The Brook in Wallington is an excellent independent cafe with an arty feel to it. They serve good homemade food, and have an excellent space available for hire. We held our daughter’s cinema-themed birthday there a few months back and it went really well.
The Wallington Arms has become a favourite haunt. Good food and good beer in friendly surroundings.
And, we love the sushi from Sushi Tama in Cheam. Our family are fans of Japanese food and the people who run Sushi Tama are really friendly, and excellent at what they do.
To keep tabs on Doug’s latest art drop, follow him on Twitter @DougShaw1.
And if you haven’t found a free painting, you can always buy one through Doug’s Etsy shop here.