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Going Without Knowing: Geoff McFetridge on his leisure-centric approach to creativity

In the summer of 2012, Californian artist Geoff McFetridge’s show Around Us & Between Us took place at London’s Ivory & Black gallery. Among the large, block-colour paintings was one that everyone was talking about, a piece entitled A Proposal For A Glass of Water. It’s a beautiful image – stark orange fingers set against a block grey background, with the fingers behind the glass distorted by the liquid – a scientific visual trick we all recognise. Speaking to Geoff almost a year on, he admitted something intriguing – in the years it took to produce this specific painting he never actually held a glass of water and drew it.

“It’s really funny because how long would that take to get a glass of water and do that? It would take about five seconds, right? So that made me realise what I’m interested in is convincing myself that it’s believable, that that is how a hand would distort if seen through water.”

It turns out that Geoff had been subconsciously doodling that image for about five years, which he only realised when revisiting his sketchbooks hunting for something recently. “It’s the kind of thing that has no research. I don’t want to change my understanding of something, my mental picture. I mean I don’t know if the fingers behind the glass will have an even curve, or they’ll have a wobble, or they’ll have no distortion. It’s possible to draw something everyday in a way that, I believe, it’s never been drawn. And maybe some people would say that’s impossible, because everyone has hands and people have been drawing in this way for hundreds of years but I do think it’s possible.”

Considering Geoff works on design and illustration commissions as well as being an artist, it’s pretty mind-blowing to find out his work relies almost solely on his own brain rather than external research. This is rooted in his lifestyle in Los Angeles. To say he’s outdoorsy is an understatement, and he cheerfully describes his frequent destinations – such as the mountains, the ocean or the desert – as “anti-museums.”

“When I go to the mountains my favourite thing to do is hike; I hike where there’s no people. Just being in the mountains or being in a surf town, or if you’re in the water, being places where you’re basically void of culture is kind of interesting.”

 

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credits: Geoff McFetridge