Finbar McHugh is a visual artist based in Galway. With a degree in Visual Communications from LSAD and a background in graffiti, Finbar uses acrylic spray paint to produce ethereal abstract paintings. His process is a meditative practice where he channels his emotion and feeling through art.

Finbar McHugh in his Studio

Where did you spend lockdown?

I spent lockdown at my home in Woodquay, Galway city.

Did you have access to a studio during this time? If not, how did you continue to create work? 

My studio is located at the back of my home which I was at most days.

Can you take me through your art making process? 

My art making involves many creative processes. I usually create the space to start something and then I’ll boldly mark the canvas as I don’t attach the value to the start or the end but instead to the journey. I pour paint out not thinking or worrying just allowing things to flow. Then I intuitively respond to what unfolds, riding the wave and maintaining a balance between skill set and feelings. If you dive into either too much it would be like falling off the board, but the longer you learn to maintain that flow with practice, the more connected and vibrant the work becomes. In this way, each painting is like riding a wave. 

‘Ancestors’, Acrylic Spray Paint on Canvas, 760 x 1220 mm

The materials I use at present are acrylic spray paint on canvas, wood and paper. Most of my work is done outdoors and I love the influence of the elements of nature within the work; for example how the wind will pull the colour across the canvas or how the sun will dry layers of paint quicker using this to create form within the piece.

For me, the joy of painting is stepping back from the work and having learned something from the experience I have created. This is where I feel an art practice has the most to offer to a person through allowing you to be continually surprised by your own process. Every day is a new adventure, have fun!

‘Inner Vision’, Acrylic Spray Paint on Hand Pulled 300gsm Acid Free Archival Paper, 405 x 500 mm

Did you experiment with any new materials or methodologies?

I created a number of large outdoor paintings on the walls around my studio and the neighbourhood within my 2k radius. Using rollers and other tools such as extendable polls and mixers  has given me a new perspective on how I would like to use new materials in my studio as up until now my practice has been primarily spray paint. 

Finbar McHugh Painting a Mural

Given the limitations and restrictions of the last few months, did your art making process change at all?  If so, do you think this will continue to change how you will make art going forward? 

I ordered a supply of materials so that I was prepared and stocked up in preparation for this time. My practice continued to develop at a normal place while I found doing just as much public work I enjoyed not sharing as much about it and just being present in my practice.

Do you have any upcoming projects?

Yes. The large outdoor works which I have been creating during this quarantine are part of an exhibition I envisioned in 2016, so I am working on that at my own pace and enjoying the long days for getting work done.

All photographs were provided by Finbar McHugh. To see more of Finbar’s work visit his website and Instagram.