“The images I use are based on the fashion world’s portrayal of perfection - flawless images of women, completely unrealistic and synthetic, yet ultimately desirable.”
"The foundation of my work originates from the relationship
between art and music."
From experimenting with colour Normansell began to create the
illusion of movement, stimulating the eye into seeing things which
may or may not be there - utilising our inclination to see patterns
in randomness like looking for shapes in clouds. The more one
studies the image the more one finds.
"My abstract paintings are based on colour studies exploring
how it can stimulate feelings, emotions within a person, the
different meanings each colour has, and its power to evoke a
certain response from the viewer."
First producing abstract works from patterns of dots and
cirlces, the natural progression of his style led him
to incorporate images within them. As he experimented more
with imagery, Paul moved from creating subtle shapes and hidden
images within patterns to full portraits made up of fragments of
colour, similar to in execution to large scale pointillist
In order to implement greater detail and tonal variation into his
work, Paul's workload took a dramatic hit. The time required to
execute a full painting increased from days to weeks, to the point
where hundreds of hours were needed to paint a full image made up
of individual dots.
"To paint each dot individually takes as long as it takes -
they're all different in size, shape and colour, and all applied
freehand using a fine brush. There's no shortcut for that
"I wanted to paint famous iconic figures known for their
beauty. To achieve a more synthetic, polished feel to the
media-friendly portraits, I moved away from the natural organic
look of acrylic and canvas, to high gloss enamel paint on sheet
aluminium. It gave me the flawless reflective quality the portraits
needed, as if they were literally in a glossy
It was this move that brought the arresting visual impact that
Paul's work now has.
The combination of paint and background heightened the dynamic
visual aspect of his work through the optical effect and
overwhelming impact. As one looks at an image directly, depending
on how the light falls, the variety and definition of colour and
tone is lost and the portrait almost becomes a silhouette. It is
only when viewed off-centre that the image comes alive and the
The great drawback with the technique, one which is a constant
detriment to Paul's health, lies with simple physics - the
paintings have to be produced horizontally. In order for the paint
to stay still long enough to dry where it should, Paul's aluminium
'canvas' cannot be positioned upright on a traditional easel, as
gravity causes the paint to sag and run.
"I have tried several devices over the years to allow me to
paint horizontally - from laying on a plank supported on 2 chairs,
to a hammock suspended above the floor. None of them have been
perfect, and none have permanently removed my need for weekly
sessions at the osteopath. My back is messed up, it hurts pretty
much all of the time - I suppose it's 'suffering for my art' in
Normansell's imagery evolved from dot portraits into a new style
as he became interested in a broader scope of fashion images. He
began to focus on certain areas of the figure, and by exploring the
optical aspect of the portrait, the focus was once again on
"The images I use are based on the fashion world's portrayal
of perfection - flawless images of women, completely unrealistic
and synthetic, yet ultimately desirable."
With a distinct 'pop art' influence, Normansell's figurative
style combines intense saturated colour and flat, graphic
execution. By removing almost all suggestion of shade and tone, the
images become less connected with the real world, and allude to the
'unrealistic' nature of fashion media imagery.
"Aiming for this look allows me to create an unusual parallel,
and because of the plastic-like finish of gloss and the meticulous
execution, the paintings are almost doll-like in appearance. Just
as the media manufacture their airbrushed images, all flaws are
discarded, the skin and hair are impossibly perfect."