Peter Kotka – Artist Interview

As the world is on lockdown, we thought this would be a good opportunity to get some inside info on how our artists work, below is an interview with Gallery artist – Peter Kotka

Firstly a bit if background about Peter,

Peter Kotka was born in 1951, to an English mother and Estonian father.

Peter Kotka works entirely from life, originally setting up the composition in a black box (type of stage) or similar. His work is built up in layers using grisaille (a style of monochromatic painting in shades of grey, used especially for the representation of relief sculpture) under painting building up the paint layer and eventually glazing on top, working on canvas panels or boards that he produces himself.

“My painting style has developed over 30 years,” he reveals. “Originally I painted large landscapes, then I started to study Dutch artists. My work then became smaller and more detailed, and gradually my work became even finer and more detailed. He is  a major Artist recognised in the latest volume “British Artists since 1945” and his works grace many well-known private collections.

Peter Kotka - straight from the cellar
‘Straight from the Cellar’

Firstly how is the lockdown affecting your work?

As an artist I work in isolation anyway, so from that point of view no change. But trying to get hold of props ie fruit etc can be difficult.

·        Where do you get most of your inspiration?

Inspiration comes from the objects I have collected and their colours and colour combinations. Light and colour is what I like to paint most.

·         Do you prefer to work outside/in your studio/a mixture of both?

In the studio I work from life all paintings originally set up in a black box. Photos taken as well of the black box set up.

·         What does your studio space look like?

Studio with Gallery wall and frame bench

What sort of painting are you working on at the moment?

Large wine commission for an overseas client.

   Can you show us some images from your sketchbook?

Do not generally sketch in a book as my set up is always in front of me, so I sketch onto my panel.

Studio with North facing window, Easel and black box set up area

Recent painting from black box set up

·          What is your favourite medium to work in and why?

Oil paint because of its flexibility and diversity.  ·    

·         How do you feel your work has changed over the years?

My work has become finer and more atmospheric, I hope? Lots of dark but always with a chink of light, hopefully a metaphor for life.

Grapes and Silver Jug

·         Is there a particular time/place or movement you feel influenced you the most?

Dutch painting of the Golden Age.

·         What other work have you done apart from being an Artist?

Toolmaker and tool designer, in the aluminium industry.

·         What is the best thing about being an artist for you?

Independence and pleasing yourself, the only person to paint for is yourself and hope someone else will like it, otherwise you cannot give your best.

·         Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

Yes but  I never thought it possible. You have to be talented or stupid to be an artist, I am not talented!

Do you have a favourite painting that you have done? If so which one?

Any painting where I think I have truly achieved the light and colour objective and a sense of place. Not just a copy of an image

Where/ or what  is your favourite place/subject  to paint?

Still life containing water ice silver etc. Alone in the studio.


·         How do you find titles for your paintings, does the idea come before or after?

Titles come as I am painting the picture as a rule.

·         Who’s your favourite artist/artists?

Willem Kalf (Dutch 1619-1693) for light and atmosphere. Pedro Campos for technique(Modern).

·         Which is the favourite piece of art by another Artist that you own?

Don’t have one although I used to have a print of a Mark Rothko which I loved.

·         Do you listen to music while you paint? If so what kind of music?

Yes all the time, bands I listen too: Airbag, Poets of the Fall, Pineapple Thief

·         What could you not do without in your studio?


Oranges and Lemons

I hope you enjoyed that! If you’d like to see more of Peter Kotka’s paintings, click here..

More Artists Interviews coming soon!