London-based artist Danny Romeril’s first introduction to painting was through his dad, the painter Nicholas Romeril, whose works principally feature the coastal landscapes and churning seas that surround the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands, where Danny grew up. “I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but I never ever wanted to be a painter,” Danny admits; “I enjoyed science at school, and when I was really little I wanted to do the illustrations in science books. I started taking photographs seriously when I was about 15 but I decided not to do photography at uni and instead to do an art foundation where my dad was tutor, which made me try painting – I guess that’s how it happened.”
Danny’s figurative and still life paintings have all the linear boldness, deliberately jarring contouring and intentional naivety of Picasso or early Hockney – who Danny lists, alongside his partner, the painter Florence Hutchings, as some of his key influences. “I like to think they are clunky paintings,” Danny says of his work. The images are, in his words, “often about music or just everyday life – it depends on what I’m feeling like. I’m very messy and a bit of a compulsive maker – if I’m not drawing, painting or making something, then I’m probably itching to do so.”
In the paintings, Danny’s savouring of the textures and opacities of oil paint is clear. His richly painted backgrounds take on equal weight to his subjects, the whole arranged as a series of chromatic blocks, with shadows and highlights expressed, not as darkness and light, but as colour. Describing his process, Danny says: “I work on the paintings over and over in quite a quick way, often wet on wet. Eventually it gets to a point where I’m sort of happy, then it slows right down and I make little touches and tweaks, then I leave it and come back to it then decide if its finished. If a painting stays in the studio for a while and I decide that it’s not working for me anymore, I just paint over it. A lot of my paintings get totally painted over again and again, meaning they’re quite bumpy and juicy in the end, which I like.”
In terms of his more figurative works, Danny says: “I don’t really work with sitters; the only person I draw from life is Flo, when we’re at home watching TV or something. I’ve been meaning to go to life drawing for ages, but I just keep putting it off and off. The people in my paintings aren’t real people, they’re just imagined, used to occupy the space and function as shapes and forms. They’re not meant to look like anyone. It’s more like, oh he could do with a beard, and she can have brown hair. It’s very spontaneous, that bit.”
Danny has recently been applying his painterly style within the world of hand-built ceramics. He tells us: “I want to make more Toby Jugs; I’ve started collecting them because I just think they’re neat – I’ve made four, but I want to make a load more!” Considering Danny’s ability to render the personalities of imagined characters with a few deft strokes, we can’t wait to see the kind of work that his foray into the tradition of expressive character jugs will produce.