Adam James Butcher


Who are you and what do you do?

Originally from London, England, my family and I recently sold up and relocated to Mexico to follow our respective ambitions. My own plan of becoming a full time professional artist has now been realized. I am so excited by my recent success as an emerging specialist in painting using the iPad and other light-based technologies.

I would define myself as a fine artist who specialises in painting people and the places I experience. I use a combination of new light based technologies and traditional values and techniques and uphold the age old practice of observational drawing. I believe it’s important to master your craft, whatever medium you decide to use and I agree with David Hockney when he emphasizes the importance of “The eye, The hand and the heart”.

What is your favorite medium?

If I’m honest, I don’t have a favourite medium. I enjoy using a wide range of materials and processes to create. I can however confidently say that light based technologies such as my ipad, play a core role in the development of my work and in many cases the final outcome is a digital painting or drawing. I often use my digital images as a base to creating paintings in oil or works in other media. To give you an example, I’ve just come back from my second artist residency at the famous Talavera de la Reyna in Puebla, Mexico, where I produced a new series of ceramic pieces based on a working visit to the Popotecatepatl volcano.

The latest drawing applications allow me to use the iPad as an effective portable sketchbook and visual journal where I can collate my ideas on the go. I can collect video, sound and photographic evidence easily and efficiently. I use new applications to explore new ideas. For instance I recently used an application called ‘360 Panorama by Occipital, Inc’ to help me create circular designs for the Talavera ceramic plates I was creating.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am fascinated with communicating the connection experienced with the people and places I encounter.

I have been a Buddhist for many years and I’ve always been interested in a key concept in Buddhism called Ichinen sanzen. The Buddhist system was developed in China, in the VI century A.D., by the Buddhist scholar T’ien-t’ai in (538-97). The SIS is widely accepted a model of Buddhist tradition that can help scientists to understand cognition as a system that integrates person and environment; body and spirit; mind and experience; sense and conscience. The theory classifies the three thousand realms in a single moment of life. And it’s capturing the sensation a moment with all its intensity that has always been a core inspiration in my work. And in that moment, the vibrancy of light and colour has become increasingly important.

So, my philosophy I naturally look inward for answers. I’m an introvert at heart and as a very shy child, I spent many hours people watching. Making paintings of people and the places they inhabit has always been my way of making sense of the world.

Although it would be a bit pretentious to suggest that I am able to fully capture the character of a person or place, I have become very good at recording what I see and feel.

David Hockney, Lucien freud, Edward Hopper, Pierre Bonnard, Marino Marini, Sandro kopp, Van Gogh. Paul Gauguin, Andrew Gifford are some of the artists that inspire me. I use my Pinterest account to collate the work of artists that inspire me.

What is your creative process?

Well as I mentioned before, I use my iPad as a central tool. It’s become such an exciting and essential piece of technology in my creative process as an artist. The iPad is extremely versatile. It can easily be carried around allowing me more flexibility when painting ‘en plen air’. I can disappear to the back of a cafe and paint all day without distraction or being noticed.

The backlit screen mean that the colours I use are so much more vibrant than colours made from solid substances. The colours are light itself in its pure form. This means you can paint easily at night of in low lighting situations.

No mess and minimal tools equals virtually no distraction from the act of pure observation. Less distraction allows me to pay more attention.

The ability of applying infinite glazes or layers of color and playing back the process of each painting are a few of the practical benefits.

I have a growing interested in the physical and spiritual distance between us. Its been a recurring theme in my work and the work of some of my favourite artists. Many of Pierre Bonnard’s paintings were a record of very personal interiors that were his world. In his paintings you almost feel like you are a fly on the wall so to speak. Now this distance between us is becoming more and more virtual and challenging the idea of what our reality truly is. Recently I’ve been painting portraits from sitters over Skype calls and this has challenged the way I perceive this old age tradition.

My latest Skype Portraits use modern technology to explore this interesting development in social interaction.

And ironically even though my sitters might be anywhere across the world during the sitting, I don’t loose the feeling of connection. In some ways it allows a certain intimacy that ensures we pay more attention to each other. This new series is a comment on how global communication is changing.

I suppose the paying attention is one of the main messages that I would hope to convey through my work. Let’s not lose our ability to appreciate and live for the moment!. If I can encourage the viewer to reflect on our connection with the people and places around us in an era of mass distraction, well that would be amazing. Many of my collectors mention that there is a feeling of peace in my work even though the colours are so vibrant. I think it’s because I focus on capturing or freezing a moment time with everything that it contains. And the power of the colours is a way of celebrating the power of now. Life is only ever experienced now.

Is there a specific theme/message/emotion you aim to evoke?

Making art is as much a part of my spiritual pathway as anything else I do. It’s like a mission and when I’m not making, I become very unhappy. When I’m creating I’m immersed in the moment and drawing on a greater force. My self feels whole and I don’t worry about the past or the future. Its the way I take action and a truely joyful process. Im addicted to it. And of course there is nothing better in the world than when a person is moved or inspired by something I’ve made.

What motivates you to continue to create?

Making art is as much a part of my spiritual pathway as anything else I do. It’s like a mission and when I’m not making, I become very unhappy. When I’m creating I’m immersed in the moment and drawing on a greater force. My self feels whole and I don’t worry about the past or the future. Its the way I take action and a truely joyful process. Im addicted to it. And of course there is nothing better in the world than when a person is moved or inspired by something I’ve made.

When you encounter creative blocks, what do you do to overcome them?

Touch wood, I rarely get into a position where I am blocked creatively. I have a very strict routine and inbuilt habits that prepare me each day for the making process. I avoid distractions where I can and have simplified my life down to the essential.

In Steven Pressfields great little book ‘turning Pro’, he mentions that “The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits.”

All professionals have habits that they use to ensure they show up every day. In fact I would argue that the simple action of showing up is what taps our inspiration. Not the other way around.

So I get up very early. One of the most powerful habits I practise is keeping a journal where I spend 20 mins each day free writing. The process eliminated all those unwanted concerns and worries and I often find important insights in there when I occasionally go back and sift through the waffle.

So to answer the question, I think it’s essential to build professional routines as an antidote to becoming blocked. You can visit Daily Routines,  to get some interesting insights on the routines of famous people.

What are your thoughts on the future of art?

Wow!! Well in a world that is fast becoming a global community, I think that the way we communicate through art is and will change enormously within the next decade. Technology is moving exponentially and artists will be leaders in exploring the potential of these new inventions and discoveries. Art and technology have been inseparable since the first drawing on a stone wall.
In one of my recent Huffington Post articles, I interviewed LACDA’s Rex Bruce.

In regards to the way technology is transforming the way artist’ work, he mentions “the accessibility and the portability of it are a big deal.” And that it’s “so much easier now to connect and communicate.”

And technology has always been a double edge sword in terms of how humans use it to create value. I would hope that artists have an important role in helping us reflect on the times and use these new tools in valuable ways.

What is something you have had to learn on your own that you would like to pass on to the next Creative?

Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that you can’t work in a bubble. The age old myth of the isolated artist is dying out. More than ever, artists need to share what they do with their audience as well as their peers. Social media has made this aspect very easy and now in a world of over information, it’s our role to give back.

And that’s why I love to share very step of the process in the development of my work. The process is as interesting to collectors and art aficionados as the final outcomes. We all love the story behind something.

You can follow my journey by subscribing to my latest news and offers at my personal site.

And I would love to connect with you on Instagram and Facebook.