An Artist's Life
CULTURE: JAMES WILKINSON
Not just a gifted painter but a talented musician too. Is there no end to this man’s talents. Q&C meets Dominic Parczuk.
Originally from Lincoln, Dominic Parczuk, 37, is a painter and violinist. He is currently artist in residence at Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire after a successful tenure at Lincoln Cathedral. When he’s not creating stunning works of art, he can be found playing violin at various events or walking the Lake District with his partner. Dominic will present a collection of over 60 of his oil paintings at and inspired by the Doddington estate throughout the seasons from 15 June.
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to paint?
I’m originally from Lincoln, Lincolnshire and began my art studies there. I studied an art foundation before heading off to London to study at Central St Martins where I completed a degree in fashion design. I worked for many years as a designer and illustrator. I have painted since being a very small child and eventually I left London to head back home to Lincoln to focus on my art and painting once again. That was seven years ago. I worked part time as a lecturer at Lincoln University and continued my painting. I’m currently artist in residence at Doddington Hall and two years ago was artist in residence at Lincoln Cathedral.
Is painting your only line of work?
I’m also a violinist and have played for over 25 years. I try and play as much as possible as a freelance musician for various events, but painting has taken over a lot.
What would you say is an integral part of your work?
I’d say social media. I rely on constant networking and communication online to promote and sell my work. Without it, artists would rely on galleries. Things have really changed now.
What has been a highlight of your career so far?
I think spending a whole year at Lincoln Cathedral and being given a studio inside the cathedral to paint anything I wanted. I had a key and the freedom to explore absolutely anywhere inside. That was an amazing project and journey, both personally and creatively.
How has your practice changed over time?
I think when I went to London at 19, I wanted to explore the crazy avante garde world of fashion and St Martins offered that. We were taught to go against the grain. I know I am completely opposite to all of that. I don’t enjoy conceptual art or anything visually challenging in that sense. My work is simply about tone, colour and shape. What you see is what you get. Nothing challenging. I’ve become less bothered about standing out or being different. If anything, I want to revive the old traditions of art and painting.
Can you tell us more about your style of painting?
I’d class myself as a realist impressionist if that makes sense. I try to capture a subject as truthfully as possible but with a loose spontaneous feel. Basically, I like to see the brush marks and unfinished areas in a painting. I work on a painting in one sitting and don’t like to overthink or work a painting.
Do you have any up-and-coming exhibitions?
My next exhibition is at Doddington Hall 15 June – 14 July. A collection of around 65 oil paintings inspired by doddington.
What’s it like being a resident at Doddington Hall?
It has been an unusual project because the Hall is actually lived in and the family are there all of the time. I have to be very careful and aware that it is a family home. They have been very welcoming, and I’ve managed to paint all that has caught my eye.
Who is your greatest inspiration/icon and why?
I adore the work of John Singer Sargent. He is a master of his craft and understands and demonstrates light, tone, line and colour in a way no other artist, for me, has. He captures a moment or detail in a few brush marks. This can only be achieved with careful observation of a subject and thorough knowledge in technique. He’s been a huge inspiration.
The million dollar question: Why painting?
Because I look at the world very differently to a lot of people in the fact that I can see beauty in the mundane or ordinary. I’m constantly seeing combinations of colours or patterns and shapes in life and my surroundings. Painting is just a way of recording what I see and how I see things.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
People are incredibly kind online and so supportive. Occasionally the odd negative comment pops up and often it’s more funny than upsetting. Once I got ‘dreadful’ on a painting post. I was just baffled more than anything. I mean, how can a painting of a bottle be that bad to motivate a person to say that? It’s strange really but it often says more about the person commenting than the work.
Is the artistic life lonely or does it aid mental health? What do you do to counteract it or do more of to maintain good mental health?
Painting is very solitary and can be lonely because I’m self-employed with no employees. Working on big projects like residencies means that I get to work with other people and holding an exhibition gives me an opportunity to actually meet and speak to new and old clients. I don’t work Monday to Friday 9-5 but instead just manage my own time and paint whenever I like. It’s odd because I never have that ‘its Friday and the weekend’ feeling. There are pros and cons. I never really switch off from my work or leave it at the office. It’s tricky sometimes mentally. There are ups and downs and sometimes I don’t want to paint even though I’ve got commissions and deadlines. It’s hard to just turn on the creativity. It’s important to come away from my work and do something completely different now and again. I try and get away as much as possible but even then, I want to take the paints.
What do you dislike about the art world?
Bad abstract art. I think too many people use it as an excuse to be an artist. Show me you can draw first and then we can talk about going abstract.
What’s the funding for painters and like-minded artists like for yourself? Is there a need for more of it? Can you recommend anywhere for artists to go for funding for similar crafts?
I’ve never had any funding or applied for any. I’ve always worked my way up and funded everything myself. I rely on social media for the majority of sales when I’m not holding exhibitions. Instagram and other sites require constant maintenance and work. It’s a full-time job in its self. I understand my brand and who my audience and market are. It’s absolute key. I think that’s why some artists struggle. People think artists are poor and struggling. It’s not the case anymore.
Who has been your most memorable client and why?
A royal connection but I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Christopher Bailey at Burberry gave me great advice. I once walked into his office with some research and before I showed him, I said it wasn’t very good and he asked me to leave and walk back in and tell him that the research I’d found was amazing. Why plant doubt and negativity in someone’s head from the start. For some reason I learnt a lot from that little moment.
Do you have any big aspirations for the future, work-related or not?
I have some very exciting projects for later this year and can’t wait to reveal them. I have quite a few TV appearances too. Exciting times.
Dominic’s latest exhibition is at Doddington Hall from 15 June – 14 July. For more information: https://www.doddingtonhall.com/event/dominic-parczuk-exhibition/
Follow Dominic on Instagram at: @dominicparczuk