Carne Griffiths – Origins Ink_d Gallery, North Road, Brighton, Saturday, September 6, to Sunday, October 5

When Carne Griffiths quit his day job three years ago, he sat down beside his easel and poured himself a drink of brandy to celebrate.

He’d given up on his 12-year job as a commercial embroidery designer to try to carve himself a niche as an artist.

But instead of dipping his brush into the paint he plonked it in the brandy.

Rather than start afresh he splashed a bit on the page.

He liked what came out. “I thought: Oh, this looks interesting,” he says.

He’d always drawn with calligraphy inks which he used to paint over with plain water washes to add body.

But the brandy created an unusual finish. “I soon realised brandy wasn’t the way to go because I wasn’t getting a lot of work done,” he jokes. “It wasn’t conducive.”

He swapped to tea to get a similar colour and found it created a richer hue.

“I found that by mixing the few colours I used in my old job I could get this full palette – from that earthy colour of tea mixed with blues and reds gave this nice natural palette I could control.”

Griffiths’ floral line designs have adorned the King Of Tonga’s coronation embroidery, Asprey’s first catwalk collection and high fashion creations by Alexander McQueen.

But splashing tea and alcohol over the canvas made things easier and seemed to suit his work.

“I work in a frenzy: I’ll run over to the side of the studio and switch the kettle on, brew up a few different coloured teas, then splash or throw them on to the page and they disperse all the drawing and the ink.”

If he wants to create shadows he gets out the hairdryer and steers the water across the page.

As the liquid evaporates pigments and tannins settle on the page and make marks which Griffiths traces afterwards with a pen and ink.

“I try to involve accidents because it gives it an element of spontaneity. It was the same with the tea. I’m constantly trying new fugitive liquids to see what they do.”

He also uses vodka – as do many watercolourists – and graphite leads. The love for improvisation and chance is influenced by surrealism, which prioritised an automatic free-flowing process rather than over-thinking art. “I don’t get too precious. Some of the most beautiful things happen by chance. I try to connect to the unconscious side of my brain.”

Griffiths has 14 original works in his show at Ink_d Gallery, Origins.

“The show is mediation on the idea of where we trace back to and ideas that we carry something through each generation and that goes back to a single point.

“It’s not about religion – it’s about the fact we have to go back to this single thing, whatever that may be.”

That search reflects Griffiths’ departure from the nine-to-five lifestyle as does the free spirit which characterises his work.

“My aim since I went from a nine-to-five job to working for myself is about getting back to simplicity.

“Although I do patterns inspired by my embroidery background, a lot of the work is observations on reconnecting with nature.

“It is filled with ideas about the fact we are losing grasp of the things which connect us all.”

Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm, Sunday, 12pm to 4pm. Call 01273 645299.