Pete Greening is a self-taught, UK based, Geometric Abstract/Op Art artist who is a wizard of his craft. Pete’s style of art could make one think of his art and him as “cookie cutter” in description–rather literary for his art–they are anything but.
Geometric Abstract/Op Art Influences
Pete Greening began painting in the Op Art style in 1970, after discovering the artist Bridget Riley. He happened to randomly learn of her and her art in a book he pulled off a shelf while in a two year art course that, as it turned out, would not allow him to paint in this style. So the renegade dropped out. To this day, Saint Bridget of Riley, as Pete reverently refers to her, and his misspent youth are his biggest inspirations. He credits the effects of his youngest days to his “paintings being (his) attempt to capture the fleeting geometric retinal images imprinted in (his) brain from many…excursions into other realms”. Giving a bit more of a tip of his hat to Albert Hoffmann and Timothy Leary.
Pete Greening’s Painting Process
The processes involved in completing a piece of Pete’s rattling unique Geometric Abstract Art is harrowing to an artist like me, who is able to sit down with an idea/feeling and paint and be done. First, there’s coming up with Pete’s initial idea. This thought is frequently jotted in a notebook, followed by several concentrated arithmetical calculations. Sometimes, Pete has to draw up a proper sketch of his final idea in his notebook before moving on and sketching it on board. Then he moves onto my favorite part of his art-he chooses the colors. Oddly enough, the colors he chooses don’t really matter to him, as the effects of the final piece come from the gradation of colors (which is the best thing he has ever learned about art from another artist-yes, Saint Bridget of Riley). Next, he mixes the colors and it’s onto the color tests. He numbers the pots, straight from the tube-0, then 1 to (n). One being the darkest tint and (n) being defined by how many tints he needs. All of this being said, oftentimes, Pete is able to use leftover paint from other pieces. Next, Pete numbers the corresponding areas on the board, and it’s time to paint. I once joked with Pete about his art being similar to a paint by number, and by his own admission, it is just that. It is while working on one painting that the ideas often bloom for the following paintings in the same series. And when you take a look at Pete’s art, this will have a big impact.
Amazingly enough, Pete Greening, who is now retired, is able to create about one painting a week….on the dining room table. Which he clears off for dinner every evening. Of course.
Storage, The Struggle of an Artist
Being able to create his tremendous art so rapidly, Pete does have a storage problem. One piece of luck is that he paints on board rather than canvas, so his art stacks well. However, in his home, not only are his walls, save the ones on either side of the staircase which are reserved for family photos, covered with his paintings, his art is also stacked against every wall and behind every piece of furniture imaginable. As well as under all of the beds. This is currently to the tune of about 500 paintings.
The Need to Create
Like all great artists, Pete Greening’s fiercely intricate art comes from the need to get the idea out of his system. He finds Geometric Abstract/Op Art to be both intense, in the initial sketching and calculating, as well as relaxing, in the actual “paint by numbers” part. He always hopes his art results in what he thinks all good art should-a discussion. Or in some cases for Pete’s style of art in particular, an actual argument because “anyone can paint lines”.
Pete Greening Is In Tune With Music
Pete’s funky, often trippy art has been featured on album covers. His first was on the German Drone Records label. The first deal was negotiated on the spot when his art was noticed while he was paying for a music purchase. He was paid with store credit at the artist’s shop. How cool. The Drone-Mind/Mind-Drone series each contains two of Pete’s pieces, is currently at Volume 8 and has many more in the planning stages. Pete often listens to drone or long-form music when he paints as well. He likens his art to the music “with it’s slowly changing tones and sounds the equivalent of my shapes and colors”.
There’s More Than Just Art
Aside from being a profoundly ace artist, when asked who Pete Greening is, his first inclination is to ask me back, “What is there besides painting?” He then goes onto say he enjoys both regular and emergency gardening. The latter being when he paints a bit too much and the weeds begin to take over. He also loves to spend time with his very supportive wife, Aileen, daughters, grandchildren and cat, Desmond.
A Few Samples and Links to His Artwork
About the Writer
My name is Nikki Finnigan. Art is my go-to for everything. It surrounds me in my world because I let it. Writing about awesome artists is just such another opportunity. Please follow me at Granny Finnigan’s Art on Facebook.