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q&a with artist Peter Collins

It gives me great joy to welcome the wonderful Belfast artist Peter Collins to the Salt and Sparkle Q&A. Peter's work is full of a viseral power.  It is capivating and powerful all at once, he is suprenely talented.  His use of light and colour lingering in the mind's eye long long after you have first seen his paintings.  I met Peter through his brilliant fiancé Deborah Swain and am really delighted to feature him and his work.  You can contact to commission a piece by shooting him an email, or checking out his Facebook page.

Who are you, what’s it like being you ... 

Hi my name is Peter Collins and I’m a recovering IT professional. I’ve worked in IT for the last 20 years but did my degree in Fine Art. My whole team and I were made redundant recently which for me was a blessing in disguise. It was not a bad occupation but it was soul destroying working in a role that didn’t make use of my talents. It’s given me this amazing opportunity to get back to my art. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in a year’s time but my worst nightmare would have been to look back in another year and still be in the same job.

Where are you from, where are you based ...

Born and bred in Belfast. Love watching it reinvent itself having grown up in the seventies and eighties.

Talk about your work ...

I’m enjoying learning to paint in oils again after a long hiatus. The creative process of bringing something into the world out of nothing is an incredible feeling and is about as close as I get to spirituality. However it is only hard work that pays off. There is no such thing as the artistic genius –there are just those people who work much, much harder than everyone else. I try to remember this mantra but it doesn’t always work!

I’ve adopted many styles in the past for commissions and so never really thought I had a style but I hope I’m now closing in on a personal signature in my work.






What are your future plans ...
I’ve set myself the goal of getting some paintings sold in a gallery –after that…

How do you find inspiration, who you are inspired by ...   

From my own experience and from what I’ve read of other creative people, inspiration tends to come while you are working so the most important thing is to be constantly working at your craft - whatever it may be. Being productive will take you in directions you will never be able to predict by sitting around thinking about it. “You can't plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind” 

That said, Van Gogh, Cezanne and John Singer Sargent are heroes for me. Colin Davidson’s work is superb and adds fuel to the fire every time I see it! Pascal Vilcollet and Conor Harrington are amazing artists who are also very comfortable working at a large scale. I admire people who have enthusiasm for what they do. Jamie Oliver taught me to cook over the years but it’s his genuine enthusiasm that is infectious. The same applies to Prof Brian Cox (on Astrophysics not cooking!)

Describe your space .. 

I’ve converted an unused front room into a studio. The light is great but I’ve also rigged up lots of daylight lamps for a boost due to our erratic weather. Years in the I.T. business has taught me the “clear desk” philosophy which actually applies very well to an artist’s studio. So I try to keep the clutter to a minimal by clearing up at the start or end of the day. (My fiance may dispute this!)

How are you feeling today ...Great! The the sun is shining!

A non-negotiable in your life is ...

Coffee; and the dogs! I’m lucky to have two amazing dogs who know how to keep me fit!

Most encouraging words you have ever heard ...

It’s not what happens to you in life but how you deal with it that counts. I used to stress a lot about things which inevitably turned out to be pointless and trivial.

Your work life philosophy is ...

Do whatever you want but work hard at it. What defines you is not your chosen calling in life but how you do it. For me happiness and fulfillment come from being creative and productive which lifts your mood and in turn lets you appreciate life and the people in it. I happiest when free time is coming up and I know I’ve achieved or created something good.

What is your favourite smell ...  

 Peat fires. Preferably in Cork or Kerry! Also Italian pine trees. Preferably in Italy! Did I mention coffee?

Who do you like to listen to, what’s playing just now ...

Anonhi – “Drone bomb me” -very different. When I’m really concentrating or experimenting I need chilled out music like Massive Attack or even Classical music, but if I’m on a roll it’s got to be something more “full on” like Queens of the Stone Age or some Dance/HipHop.

Best meal and your favourite three ingredients ...

I love to cook so that’s a tough one. But my “go to” comfort food dish would have to be pasta Puttanesca. 

3 ingredients? Basil, Lime, Garlic: For homemade Pesto, Margaritas and everything else, in that order!

Three things or products that have changed your life...  

My Fiancé Deborah: (not a thing!) One of the most positive and open people I’ve ever met and a joy to be around!

Travel: everyone should do it. When you are young it is literally mind blowing. Every child in this country should be sent abroad for a few months at the age of 14 or 15. It would solve a lot of problems.

The Internet: Having grown up pre-internet it still astounds me how empowering the internet is for expanding your knowledge and for practical research. Alas if only more people would make use of it rather than watching cats and indulging in public displays of ignorance.

How do you relax ... 

I love cooking. Especially for other people. I only worked out recently that I somehow find it relaxing! Walking the dogs in all our beautiful parks and green places, reading a good book or some quality TV.

What makes you happy, where’s your happy place ... I’m definitely happy when I’m being creative as it defines who I am and so gives me that fulfillment. My happy place is either on the sofa with, or travelling with my wife to be Deborah.

What is your favourite journey, where in the world would you like to visit ...

 My favourite journey is heading Cork and Kerry. It’s where my family are originally from and I haven’t really explored it properly. I would love to see Machu Pichu in Peru and also a long road trip around France. 

What do you most value in your friends ...  

The absence of expectations and the Craic.


What are your favourite words, what are you reading, just now 

Favourite words: “We’re booked!”

I’m reading Moby Dick at the moment. I’ve a long list of classics that I thought I better start working through!


Share some words of wisdom ... 

Personality is how you behave around others. Character is what you do when you think no one is watching.



Thank you Peter it was such a pleasure to have you at our place.

That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

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