In Conversation: Chris Riley
Brisbane artist Chris Riley has a knack for evoking warm days and mid-century moments through this striking artwork. Known for his iconic Palm Springs paintings, Chris’s work has become a go-to for adding a bold, colourful and unique piece into an interior space.
We were lucky enough to chat with Chris on where he finds inspiration, his creative processes and where he feels most at home.
Where are you from and where are you now?
From country NSW, a small town called Guyra. I now live and work in the eastern suburbs of Brisbane.
Where did you first discover your love for art?
I first discovered my love for art at age 3 when my grandfather had myself, my sister and my cousins all create paintings one weekend in his backyard. Believe it or not, I still have this painting to this day; it's essentially a squiggly finger painting of colours but I was adamant I had painted a rooster.
What does your creative process look like at the moment?
My creative process at the moment is I find inspiration online from people's holiday snaps. When I first started painting Palm Springs, I relied heavily on reference images, however, after painting so many I'm now finding myself creating the majority of elements from scratch to bring my vision of Palm Springs to life!
First, I draw these visions onto the canvas with chalk to make sure I have the composition right before I start to paint. Once I have drawn this out, I listen to podcasts that take my brain somewhere else and leave my hands to do the painting. The part of painting which is putting the paint onto canvas is a very subconscious activity; the more engaged I am listening to the podcast and not in the painting, the better the artwork turns out.
When seeking inspiration, who and what do you turn to?
I'm inspired by Palm Springs. It's something about the light and the energy of the place that I am drawn to, however living in Brisbane I'm not able to wander to Palm Springs for inspiration, so I do that vicariously through people's holiday snaps on Instagram.
I like to play around with combining all my favourite elements from breeze blocks, crazy paving, colourful umbrellas, architecture and sun beds to create the perfect escape! I'm hoping that next year after having had the chance to spend some time In Palm Springs soaking in the light and energy in person my artwork and the visual escapes that I create go to the next level.
How do you define the meaning of home?
To me, home is a sanctuary, a place filled with all the things that give me energy. It's a place to recharge so that I am ready to tackle life's obstacles.
Is there a treasured item/s in your home that you cannot live without?
I have an antique sideboard that my wife and I refurbed. It's a beautiful curved stained-glass sideboard that we painted navy blue and jazzed up with gold leaf fixtures and finished off with a marble top! The other item that I treasure which has followed me to every home I go is a metal sculpture of a scorpion that I made in high school out of old car parts. I lovingly call it Pinchy, as if you trip over it at night it hurts!