Your figurative painting is beautiful. Do you use live models?
I don't work with models. I never paint from life. If I need objects or people, I refer to them only while I'm doing preparatory work. I lead the painting process, guided by my sensations. I am not led by the objects/figures I am painting. I produce the characters myself.
Initially, I choose my favourite images – for instance, drawings by Jean Clouet from the sixteenth century – but I never copy; they just inspire me to create my own.
But there are times when images can be observed in real life, or when a drawing or photo might be seen by chance. For example, the painting "High Water" is a portrait of my daughter, but I didn't initially intend it to be.
Both the preparation and the work itself obviously demand patience. Is this something you find challenging?
Self-mastery is very important. Human beings are by nature quite passive, but self-discipline forces the artist to create and overcome that passivity. The anticipation of work is a very sweet feeling, and when you start working, when you take a pencil or some paint, when you feel the resistance of the material, you have to will yourself to make an effort.
Have other artists influenced your work? Which other artists do you admire?
I'm inspired by many artists, but there are some who are especially dear to me. Among the Old Masters are Jan van Eyck and Piero della Francesca.
I am fuelled by the energy and charisma of contemporary artists too. I understand their ambition and desire for success, artists like Pierre Bonnard, Jan Fabre, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst. The language of the director Robert Wilson is close to me. I am also inspired by modern designers, especially the work of Josep Font; I identify with his attitude to shape and colour. From the fashion classics I admire Yves Saint Laurent, his mastery and sense of proportion.