Born in Kidderminster, Carl Stimpson is an English painter. Stimpson studied Fine Art at The Arts Institute of Bournemouth (now Arts University College Bournemouth). Stimpson currently lives and works in London.
Carl Stimpson first began to develop the style he is recognised for by copying, freehand, cut-outs from magazines and newspapers. Inspired by pop-culture imagery, Stimpson would simply outline his chosen subjects within a field of even-coloured paint, leaving only the essential information remaining. In manipulating the source image in this way, Stimpson found he was able to exploit the graphic form of his reference material to rich effect. Perhaps unwittingly, Stimpson was following in the footsteps of an art form pioneered by Belgian artist Hergé, creator of the Tintin series, called ‘ligne claire’ (literally, clear line) – an art form that Stimpson would one day reference directly with his series of paintings based on the ‘boy reporter’.
Stimpson’s hand-eye skill was not without its limitations - as his search for imagery to transform into paintings grew, Stimpson found that, so too did his desire for a complete faithfulness to the original printed image. Although confident enough with a brush to copy precisely what was before him, Stimpson felt that there was always something of the original image left out, something of its origin that just didn’t translate when described by hand-eye alone. It was born out of this impasse that Stimpson first engaged in his use of a light projector to literally transpose his reference point onto the face of the canvas. From the projected image, he could then fully determine the precise location of his brushmark - including all the imperfections that were present in the original source material – making the finished image all the more authentic.
Often so close in appearance to the printed surface that he sought to imitate, Stimpson’s paintings belied quite how painstaking they were to produce – these were not straightforward reproductions. Stimpson subsequently developed his brushwork in favour of a cleaner, less painterly line. A style that became most evident when he was following, directly, the hand of another artist.
Stimpson’s fascination with Hergé’s Tintin comic book series would come to inform both his approach to painting and the subjects of his paintings themselves. It would, in fact, revolutionise his entire painting practice. For Stimpson, the Tintin books represented both an opportunity to employ the stylised form he so desired together with a direct continuity between his works and those works that had inspired him throughout.
Stimpson’s paintings continue to be informed by the multitude of visual imagery at his mercy. Be it fantastical compositions rendered with seductive simplicity or complex and intricate visual combinations, Stimpson’s paintings always arrest and astound in their immediacy.