Steve Rosendale – Artist

Steve Rosendale www.steverosendale.com.au is a Melbourne based painter whose figurative cinematic oil paintings capture a romantic view of urban life. Heavily influenced by film noir and such cinematic greats as Michelangelo Antonioni, Steve’s paintings emanate a moody nostalgia of times long past. His commitment to his imagery is equalled by a commitment to realism and to mastering his materials, which is apparent in his finished paintings, some of which can be seen in his forthcoming exhibition “Incidental” at Libby Edwards Galleries Melbourne (http://www.libbyedwardsgalleries.com/exhibitionpage.asp?FType=69) “Incidental” opens 27th August 6-8pm and continues to mid September.

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Artist’s statement…
My intention is to create works of mystery and drama, high contrast and atmosphere. All based on faint memories I have of wandering the city at night in my late teens, memories which become increasingly hazy and romanticized over the years.
I will use quite a variety of materials to create a composition – including sketches, personal photographs, film stills, magazine or news clipping; in fact any visual device i stumble across that seems to correspond to the sub-conscious memory. Then from this manufactured reality produce a finished oil painting.

What are you currently working on?
An exhibition at Libby Edwards Galleries for 27th August 09

A few words about what fascinates you?
Modernism, Tonalism, Romanticism, European New Wave Cinema.

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You mention cinema as something, which fascinates you and obviously this comes through very strongly in your choice of imagery, could you tell us more about that?
From my earliest days as an artist I began using film, television and magazines as source material for my work. This really came about as a matter of pure convenience because I found it increasingly difficult to get models to pose, stay still, or even stay awake (!!) while I painted them. As time went on I began to rely more and more on film to provide the figures I needed for the paintings, eventually abandoning other source material all together. Over the last few years I have spent countless nights sifting through hundreds of films to find the exact pose or image I am looking for.

I have used the term “Incidental” to describe the work, in that the use of film as subject matter is really secondary to the mood or feeling I am trying to convey. Film is simply a device or tool that I manipulate to express the deeper, almost subconscious reasons for the choice of scene or figure.

I am far more interested in the use of composition and colour to create drama and mystery in the works rather than which particular film or actor is being borrowed for the scene. The result is not unlike a film still but on transferring it to the canvas and manipulating various elements the finished work will inevitably be filtered through the lens of my subconscious and imbued with the mannerisms of my personality.

Have you always been interested in art?
Always subconsciously, but only consciously for the last 12 years.

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What is your earliest memory of art?
I recall a painting on the wall of my parent’s house by Neil Savage that fascinated me…I still have it today and it has been a huge influence I think.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
Hell no.

So did the place where you grew up have an influence?
Yes in the sense it was a negative influence; everything I wanted to escape from, ignore and avoid.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
IT course, Philosophy course, Photography course, worked in a factory, apprentice hairdresser, assistant manager supermarket, art store, framing store, shoe store…need I go on….?

Why are you an artist?
I was left with no other choice. Or to put it another way I had tried everything else, and when I discovered drawing and painting it was immediate it was so obvious I should have known all along.

How did you get into art?
Began by doing a photography course, then a drawing course, then onto to TAFE to build a folio then onto University Fine Arts.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Helpful. In the beginning I was a sponge for information so it didn’t really matter where it came from, even though I may not agree with different artists or art teachers or their methods there is still something to pick up from each one. If you don’t like a persons work (or the person) that shouldn’t mean you brush off what they have to say too quickly.

And I’d say art education is ongoing. It doesn’t end, everyday there is something new, something to learn, some new break through, just when you think you have unlocked some key secret you open a door on to a vista of things you don’t know.

Can you tell us about any significant moments in your life, the sort of things,which changed things for you and your art?
The first time I went to the city at night, I was about 17 and caught a train in. I was mesmerized by the lights; I was in awe, I was in love…it was an artistic moment but I didn’t realise it until years later. A moment I have not forgotten.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?
No.

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Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?
I walked into gallery after gallery until one said ‘yes’.

Was that a long process?
No it wasn’t long it is actually quite easy to get into a gallery there are hundreds of Artist run spaces who will take ‘anyone’ if you are not choosy. I don’t think gallery representation is a problem unless you get picky. So at the start anything will do, but then as you move on obviously you want a gallery who can do a bit more for you then just take your money. The idea is to simply “start somewhere “ and progress from there.

How did your first solo show go?
Great, thankfully…. which I guess encouraged me to go on…though in between I have had shows that weren’t so good…I remember having an opening night somewhere in the middle of winter where no one had turned up, I remember standing by myself freezing to death, because they had no heater and I was just determined to believe that this was not a problem…. just a stepping stone on the way to somewhere else…now if that had of been my first show who knows what my reaction would have been but I think by then I had enough behind me not to take it too badly…I couldn’t believe 6 months later the same gallery had the nerve to ask me if I wanted to show with them again!?

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Oil I guess It was just traditional…Also It was so difficult to grasp at the beginning it became like a challenge to master and then you just become addicted to finding out more and more of its properties and potentials etc.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Certainly I feel there is a constant improvement and a constant evolution going on…though the more personal elements and the subject matter has remained exactly the same. But the way they are expressed is constantly evolving through practice and experimentation.

Have your artistic influences altered over time (e.g. artists.)
Yes. In the beginning – ( and it seems true for most artists I meet ) Salvador Dali was the main influence It was all Dali, Dali, Dali. Then there was a long Warhol period…but lately I am becoming more interested in artists who use paint in very unique and individual ways such as Ben McLaughlin, Rick Amor, John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Glenn Barr…

Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these?
There is a constant process of looking, searching… always on the look out for the next ‘big thing’ ….some come to me on their own and others I discover for myself…” Do Not wait for inspiration…light out after it with a club!! “ Jack London. I mean everything can be inspiring if looked at in the right way…i.e. a Cézanne apple the most mundane of objects but to him the cornerstone of much of his work. So I think it is YOU who must be inspired and then it doesn’t really matter what the subject is.

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
Art is music, poetry.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Torn up or painted over.

The problem with the art scene today is…
Too many people just “ having- a- go “ I mean would you let someone ‘have-a-go’ at Brain Surgery? Or someone who has trained and practiced for ten years? There is a belief that art should be “ for everyone “ and “ anyone can do it “ but again… can just ANYONE do brain surgery?? I believe everyone has the potential to be an artist but they must get down to the business of it, not just a romanticised ideal of it. I mean its ok to express yourself and have a creative outlet but when that sort of work ends up in the gallery system… I…don’t know what to say? It’s like watching the Australian Idol try-outs. Also a lousy Doctor would be dismissed but a lousy painter can hang around for years.

One thing you wish you had listened to from an art teacher or lecturer?
“Spend more time in the studio“

Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”
Every couple of weeks there is a major turning point that I think is ‘THE’ one and then another even greater one occurs a week later that makes the first pale in significance so I now believe it may be a never ending process of revelation.

What would you say are the top three things, which make you successful as an artist?
Practice, Drive, Patience

Are there any books that have inspired your work as an artist?
Remembrance of Things Past
. Marcel Proust.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
Certainly I think the measure of an artwork is its longevity and its timelessness

Do you have a connectedness to other art forms?
Yes Music, Poetry. I write a lot, I have been in several bands as a drummer and singer. (I attempted acting but …was quite hopeless at it!)

Some artists are more “at home” isolated in their creative process, while others revel in being part of a group to bounce “ideas off” how about you?
I need complete isolation. I don’t mind company but it can be a distraction. I don’t have a group of artists that I bounce ideas off. I am quite independent.

Can you describe your working process?
I am in the studio daily, sometimes with the weekend off. I have many more ideas than I could ever put down and it’s hard to decide which ones to do and which have to miss out…

Before I start I have sketches, drawings, watercolours, reference photos etc at hand. A lot of the finished painting is worked out well in advance of the execution.
In the early days I worked straight into the canvas sometimes without any reference material at all. The result was abstract and expressionistic, but it was also very hit and miss and perhaps because of this I began to spend more and more time on the planning, which slowly evolved into the way I work today.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
I would rather starve as an artist than become wealthy doing something uncreative… but I think it is quite possible (not necessarily easy) to become a wealthy artist.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
If you’re going to do it, put everything into it and don’t look back.

Would you say your paintings reveal something private about yourself?
Yes
: my work should be read in a psychological way where the work is the end product of my past experiences.

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I remember doing an over the phone interview for a Brisbane newspaper while reclining in my boxer shorts and sipping champagne in a hotel room…feeling that perhaps I had achieved something…!

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
You create a painting, which completely blows your own mind and then wonder if it was you who actually did it?

Can you respond to this quote “Anyone who is half assed about art should get out.” (Janet Fish).
Yes

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Compiled and edited by Amanda van Gils © 2009+

Jacqui Stewart

Jacqui Stewart has been making art since ‘teenaging’ set in. “I got into art at secondary school mainly photography and some fine art practices. My art teachers were positive and encouraging..” Jacqui said.

The web address for more info is… http://723.com/jacksme http://www.warmtoastcafe.com/art/jacks68

Also the blog for Jacqui’s for radio show http://www.houseofjack.blogspot.com

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Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
Radio and Music, I enjoy being a DJ and interviewing interesting people.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
photography, painting, I am also interested in sound in gallery.

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How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
Photo documentary artistic photography and abstract art. The photographs are a record of out times and I’ve recently joined the digital revolution so use my digital camera when I can. I still wonder at the miracle of film though. The abstract art lets me express things without concrete images, which may make the pieces more intriguing.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
It’s a record of our times and says something about people on the margins and my own personality.

What are you currently working on?
Some black and white portraits sound ideas.

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What fascinates you?
The world and all the different kinds of people in it

Why are you an artist?
I enjoy photography, it’s a way of connecting to the world and expressing who you are.

How did you get into art?
Loved it at secondary school. I was encouraged and we had good art spaces. Which led me to TAFE, which I absolutely loved. You could be whoever and whatever you wanted to be at TAFE . no bells to tell you when to go to your next class. Just the enjoyment of being a young adult able to express oneself through art.

Your art education was…?
Top in art and design BA fine art museum studies at post grad level.

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Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
Helpful, gave me discipline and the skills to move on. You had to help yourself in many ways Teachers just let us do our own thing. I learnt a lot and loved the facilities.

What or who inspires your art?
The people of the world. I like photographing people the way we are all quite unique and have all travelled on this planet both emotionally and physically I try to capture this.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Easy to get things printed easy access to a camera something you can take around with you. The camera is a very accessible thing.

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Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Yes it does I feel that is was my choice to be creative

Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?
I try to see as much art as possible across all mediums and genres. It always fascinates me the variety of ideas people have and it’s always inspirational to look at other peoples work.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
I’m at an art studio so yeah. People are doing all kinds of different works at the gallery studio space. Some big works other small intimate works and such a variety, everthing from abstract to photo realism

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about?
I put in for a submission to the midsumma festival, we shall see.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
It is a daunting task and takes lots of energy but its good to get your work out there. The results usually pay off when you see your work displayed. I was pleased with my last exhibition I thought it came up well had lots of good comments.

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Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
An artist is an artist for life I think you keep maturing and developing.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I jot down ideas do sketches and plan things. I should sketch more I tend to launch into finished artworks before pre sketching. I enjoy just randomly putting any random idea on paper kind of like just seeing what comes out and it can be surprising

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?
When working in photography its about the decisive moment.

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Musical influences?
I love bands like massive attack portishead, and radiohead music can be inspirational.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
Sure would, I’ve always got something on the go I always take photos.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
Sometimes I title things, others I don’t, some titles are more factual then others ie photo taken at Camberwell market is self explanatory while rebirth is open to interpretation.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?
I did a piece called fork off which featured forks on a canvas and it got quite a response, many saw the humour.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
It’s a reality.

What moves you most in life, either to inspire or upset you, which might be connected to your art?
The thrill of the unexpected nature of film is inspiring and capturing that moment.

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
In some ways it is about context, society, culture and history can shape your work and give it meaning

How long did it take to develop your own style?
Forever developing and changing. I do different things like put words on canvas play around with sound ideas I’ve even got some old super 8 film which I want to piece together for a projection in a gallery.

What was life like for you as you were growing up?
I was never into sport so I was an arty kid at school a bit weird and kind of different I couldn’t wait to get to art school. I could be who I wanted to be at art school.

Eccentricity is seen as a common trait of artists of many disciplines, how about you?
It helps to be a bit different.

Do you wake up with ideas at 2am etc… and have to jot them down?
Some of my dreams can be inspiring they can be very creative.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Tom Haney

Tom Haney is from Atlanta, Georgia, USA and says he has been making art most of his life but his current work started in 1994 and began doing it full time in 2000 for more descriptions and images of his work check out his web address. www.tomhaney.com his current works are mechanical sculptures, with found objects and assemblage.

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Artist’s statement…
Mu
ch of my work is unseen. Whether it’s an intricate part of a mechanism or the curve of a leg, so much of what I do is not instantly apparent. On a kinetic piece, 50-60 percent of my time is spent on the mechanism hidden inside the work.

I hand-carve the bodies of all my figures and sculpt each head one at a time, doing things the old-fashioned way. No corners are cut, no shortcuts taken. When making a piece that moves, I aspire to produce a piece that will operate for years to come.

A great deal of time is spent perfecting the mechanisms to ensure I will never have to spend my time repairing them. The special people who collect my art understand what goes into creating it. They appreciate the hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months of dedication it takes to create these unique pieces.

Woodcarving was my initial approach to creating the figures, but lately I’ve found myself using materials as diverse as fabric, polymer clay, and found objects. Electrical motors, miniature lights and motion-detectors have been added to my mechanical repertoire.

For the most part, I approach my work searching for that characteristic of the human spirit that struggles to overcome anything fate can throw its way. I’ve always been on the side of the underdog, rooting for the little guy. Their lives and stories inspire me.

What are you currently working on?
A commission of a clock that is 12” high and 72” long with a movable figure and multiple movable objects.

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What fascinates you?
Anything mechanical.

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Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works?
Darker than previous work. Using lighting to a greater degree. Narrative slightly off of reality, more dream-like.

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Why are you an artist?
I was born this way and I can’t help thinking like an artist. It’s very important for me, it’s my life.

Why is it so compelling?
The challenge to make something that people want to look at and try to understand.

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Your art education was…?
I have degree in Industrial Design.

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What did you do before or during becoming an artist? I made props models and miniatures for photography, commercials and movies.

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What is your earliest memory of art? Seeing my older sisters creating art and drawing with crayons.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family? Yes, but it was discouraged professionally.

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Was there a big turning point in your art journey, which caused you to think “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”? In 2000 I did my first outdoor show and sold many pieces and heard great comments from people.

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What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in? American folk art.

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What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years? When I first started making things I wanted to see it finished at the end of the day. Now I have lots of patience and take my time to finish a piece. My pieces today, take weeks to finish.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you? Yes but sometimes it’s hard to get started.

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Do you get creative glimpses of urges happening and how do you work with these? I usually sketch these ideas down somewhere.

Have you had any commissions? Yes, half of my time over the last few years has been spent on commissions.

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How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation? Very important, I try to do the best work I can always.

Does the sale of your work support you? Yes, but with this economy it’s been a little slim.

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Do you have much contact with other artists? My wife is an artist and I do try to keep in touch with creative people.

Any upcoming or completely new projects you want to talk about? Currently I’m working on a commission piece, a clock 12” high x 72” long. It’s areal challenge and a bit out of what I normally do.

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Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task? Yes, there is never enough time to do all the works I have ideas for.

Tell us about your connection to your subject matter, way of working, concepts etc? I always look for subjects, which have an interesting movement to them. Sometimes pieces are more of a personal challenge, a problem to solve.

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What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why? In 2000 I became a full-time artist and had the time to commit 100% to my work, this opened up many possibilities.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
Calder, Picasso and Da Vinci. Calder made a huge impression on me as a youth. I have no idea how old I was or what show I saw when I was young, but my parents said I could always recognise his work even as a small child. Picasso went from being classically trained as a youth and through his career stripped everything down to the basics elements. I wanted to be Da Vinci when I was young, (and still do), because he did everything, he was an artist, an engineer, an architect, and an inventor.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Exhibition – Regionalis

To open this Wed 19th Aug.

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Exhibition

A new show about to hit the walls… I figure these guys work at the Victorian Museum, so expect a wildly diverse show… time will tell!

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Exhibition – Gromm

GROMM: Everything you know is wrong – New paintings by Michael Gromm
Please join us for drinks and opening night preview on Saturday 22 August 5 – 7 pm.
This exhibition will be launched by Shelley Hinton, Education Coordinator, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.

Look forward to seeing you on the night.

Robert Avitabile
Director

Metropolis Gallery Geelong

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Black Saturday radio stories

ABC radio in Gippsland has been interviewing people about their experiences in the Black Saturday fires which devastated communities in the region, here three Contemporary Visual Artists chat about their work in the aftermath of the fires and their experiences on the day… HUGE!

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Werner and Ursula Theinert

Art in action

While an exhibition Steve Gray is part of (Regionalis), is set for mid August 09 at red gallery, it doesn’t stop him from working! Here you can see some of what Steve has been up to, as he logs a journal with pics of where he’s at now. Take a look. You may recall he was interviewed here earlier

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Meet and greet the Artists

Apart from catching up with the Artists for a “quick natter” at an opening, you might want to have a longer chat with them one to one, or hear them explore their work with a small group. Well now you can…

The guys over at www.regionalis.com.au and their corresponding exhibition at red gallery 157 St Georges Rd North Fitzroy (Aug 19 – Sept 5th – Wed – Sat 11am – 5pm)

Aug 22 the Artists involved in Regionalis will be in the gallery from 1pm to 4pm ready to chat to you about their work.

So join them for a while and find out about art from the inside.

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Happy Birthday Gallerysmith…

12 months is a long time in art circles, but then again it can seem almost minsicule as well! I met Marita Smith today the Director at Gallerysmith and she told me the gallery has been up and running 12 months. Well done! Its in North Melbourne.

Today I did my usual “lets go and find a gallery I have not been to before…” and so Gallerysmith got the visit.  A warehousey space in three sections rather lovely! check out their website at www.gallerysmith.com.au when you drop in there, tell Marita you saw the gallery right here…

Open Studio – Ghost Patrol

An open studio for ghost patrol, should be a good event… Aug 8th 09

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Kaitlin Beckett

Kaitlin Beckett is originally from New Zealand and now lives in Melbourne. Kaitlin started taking her art seriously 3-4 years ago. You can check out more of her efforts at www.a-curious-bestiary.com Kaitlin says “Music is a big part of my life too – art used to always take a back seat to music, though now I’m pouring 100% of my energy into art.”

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What are the main medium/s you work in?
For a long time it has been a combination of inks, watercolours, chalk pastels and embellishments with metal leaf, foils and iridescent pigments. I recently started using an airbrush, this has been an exciting (and messy) journey.

Artist’s statement…
“Since childhood I have had a love for the fantastic and the imaginary – I enjoy depicting the real and the unreal together, things turning into other things, the unusual engaged with the everyday. However macabre some of my creatures may seem, they still have a whimsical quality – it’s important to me that people can see the humour in my work.”

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How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
Illustrative, with fat black outlines!

What are you currently working on?
I have a solo show coming up in September/October, so I’m preparing for this – most likely to be fish themed. After that…perhaps something anatomical?

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What fascinates you?
The natural world! The diversity of the creatures on earth is utterly fascinating and an endless source of inspiration.

How important is art for you?
I think everyone is naturally creative, it just depends on what works best for you to express it. If I were not painting and drawing, I’d find another outlet – as long as you have something, you won’t experience creative frustration.

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Your art education was…?
Soul destroying.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
I all but gave up visual arts for many years as a result of art education… it can be a very dangerous thing, if you don’t find the right kind of course or teacher to nurture you and preserve your originality. I know many people do manage to find a learning environment that helps them they way they need to be helped, but I’ve heard from many other artists who had a similar experience to me! Sometimes you need to make your own mistakes and learn from them yourself.

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Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I was pretty happy to be a featured artist in 2009’s Curvy book (a compilation of female artists and designers).

What is your earliest memory of art?
Nothing too specific – though I remember I had a little wooden table that was my ‘art space’ for years – I’m sure I made a lot of play-dough animals on that table, haha.

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Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”?
The first time I sold a piece to someone I didn’t know was a special moment. I felt like at that point I was ‘allowed’ to call myself an artist!

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Lack of patience I guess. I like working with mediums that don’t take ages to dry and hold me up…all I have to wait for during most paintings is masking fluid and that’s pretty quick. I also like chalk pastels – I like to rub them into the canvas with my fingers, there’s something satisfying about getting your hands dirty.

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Has your work changed much since your early efforts? (e.g. as a student).
Definitely more confident with my mediums…and also the detail is becoming much more refined.

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?
I used to jump right in to the painting part once I had an idea… but I found often I’d lose interest or realise I’d made a mistake I couldn’t ‘fix up’ in the finishing of it. I now take time and do sketches and tests first – if something bugs me about a concept in the sketch stages, I know it will bug me far more when the piece is finished! So now if something doesn’t feel right, I make myself do it again and again until I am happy.

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Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
I guess so – I feel like I have lots of ideas floating about. It can be hard to figure out which one to pursue though, and this is the form of ‘artist’s block’ I sometimes get!

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
As I said above it’s very important. I see the finished piece in my head first and endeavour to extract it intact! There are sometimes happy accidents along the way but during the process I know how I want the result to look. Also as my work has layers of mediums in order, it’s not so easy to go back and change some things, I usually ruin it trying to do that.

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Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?
I try to but often I’m standing there looking at the art thinking ‘I should be at home right now painting!’.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
The most important thing is to make sure you are ready and are proud of the work you are submitting. Rushing to get work finished at the last minute is not an ideal situation! For my next show I plan to choose my best work from what I have available, rather than throwing everything in to ‘fill’ the space.

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Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
Lifespan? That seems ridiculous. I feel my art has improved so much over the years I have been devoting myself to it – and I look forward to continuing and developing. As far as I’m concerned there is no such thing as ‘post-educational’ – you are always learning and growing as an artist.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I have a lot of bits of paper pinned to my wall at home…when I have a new idea I will sketch it on whatever is lying around. I kept an art diary for a while but as it contained everything in one place, it became too precious and I got paranoid about losing it and stopped carrying it around with me! Which defeated the purpose of an art diary really.

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What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
You have to know when to stop! Because I do my sketches and planning first, it’s unusual for that to happen. But when it does there’s a point when you have to step AWAY from the canvas and not get any more agitated. Having said that though, during most of my pieces I have a moment of thinking that it is not working out and I should just stop, but then I persevere and I’m happy with it.

Musical influences, Okay this is about Visual Arts but most artists have favourite music they enjoy while working or just in general what about you?
Music is ESSENTIAL! I can’t paint without it. I listen to different kinds of things depending on the time of day – something mellow in the morning, heavy music at night.

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Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
Definitely not! People respond to art in such varied ways and it is entirely personal – you can’t make someone see something or connect with something the way that you do. I like it when people tell me what a piece means to them, or what they think is happening in the situation, and that they are not afraid – I think often people don’t feel comfortable to do this as they don’t want to say something ‘wrong’. There is no ‘wrong’! If someone’s interpretation of a piece is completely different to yours, you can’t be offended or disappointed.

What can you say about your work that might not be evident to the viewer?
Nothing. If it’s not evident, it’s not relevant to them. Like I said above, I want people to respond individually. If all they see when they look at a piece is a pretty picture with no meaning, well, this is fine too.

Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished?
Maybe if I worked in one medium I might… you can always keep fiddling with it. Though as I work in stages with different mediums there’s a definitely an end point. And I varnish quickly so I can’t change my mind.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
I wouldn’t say ‘hate’ but there is certainly no ‘revelling’! My titles are functional and to the point…haha. Long pretentious titles annoy me, but then so do titles ‘Untitled XI’. Call a spade a spade I say! Until you end up with a few paintings of spades, and then you have call them ‘red spade’, ‘spade 3’ etc…

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
It can definitely feel like a hassle…but it has to be done. The internet makes it much easier to do these days, and there are more opportunities for free promotion than in print.

Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?
When I was young I was given a picture book by VC Vickers called ’The Google Book’ (not related to the search engine!) – it had odd illustrations and odder poetry – scared and fascinated me at the same time. The creatures in it were bleak and macabre but also endearing.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
That’s OK, it’s their opinion! However – I’d appreciate a comment like that more if they said ‘…lacks any meaning TO ME’. People should never assume what a work may mean to the artist.

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?
My studio is in my home, which suits me best as I can flit into or out of it when I want. The light is average but there’s room for lots of desks. I don’t know if I could share a creative space with anyone…I am a stereo nazi.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
Whether people liked it or didn’t, I’d like to think it was at least interesting and worth a second look.

Some artists are more “at home” isolated in their creative process, while others revel in being part of a group to bounce “ideas off” how about you?
I definitely prefer to be alone and with no distractions…though I have worked in collaborative situations before which have been challenging but rewarding.

What is one thing you need to have in your studio before you work?
Music…and then incense & coffee.

Are you a purist with your art materials or willing to mix things about?
Definitely not a purist. I will splash out on some things like brushes and varnishes but I still use the same box of cheap chalk pastels I got when I was around 10.

Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
I suppose the subject. I see many paintings around that have been executed brilliantly that are just so trite. You can learn the technical skill as you go…if your ideas are unimaginative or imitative, good execution will not save them.

Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
I am currently attempting to balance the two.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?
Not really, though I’m trying to go diving as much as I can during my current fish phase!

How long did it take to develop your own style?
Not too long I guess – looking at older pieces and unfinished works from before I started taking it seriously, I can still see my fat black outlines and squiggled marks. My style has been refined a lot though as I have matured as an artist.

How do you cope with any low points?
By not doing anything dramatic – it will pass!

How did you approach your first gallery?
It was an ‘all works accepted’ auction at a local gallery – I thought ‘good, they can’t reject me!’ As it happened the owner liked my work and I was able to be part of a few events after the auction. It’s difficult to know where to start as you need a ‘body’ of work to secure your own show, and if you’ve never shown before you might not be given that opportunity. Group shows are the best foot in the door and some galleries arrange them on a regular basis – artists should try and join as many mailing lists of local galleries as they can, to find out about these events.

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?
I used to work on the one piece from start to finish – but I realised I like to be able to switch from ‘concept’ stuff that uses a lot of concentration to more brain dead stuff like varnishing or masking! So these days I will normally have about 2-3 pieces I’m working on at once. I like to alternate large and small works too – usually after finishing a big canvas I want to do something more manageable, and after the fiddly ones I want to stretch out.

Does some of your current work reflect your earlier works?
I do have some recurring characters – sometimes there will be a year or more before they make their reappearance! I do like to look at images of my older works from time to time and pick up a thread.

Can you respond to this quote “Anyone who is half assed about art should get out.” (Janet Fish).
Anyone who is half arted about ass should get out.

Was there a point where you decided: OK I can live off of my art?
I’m hoping this will be in the near future!

How did your first solo show go?
Better than expected! Though my expectations were fairly low. I had a small room at a local gallery and showed about 14-15 pieces.

Did you have any idea about how the art world worked in the beginning?
No! And I still don’t. I’d just like to get through it intact

Do you have ideas turning over in your head all the time or…
Yes, like a cement mixer. If it stops turning, your ideas go all hard…

Eccentricity is seen as a common trait of artists of many disciplines, how about you?
Well…eccentricity is found in all walks of life, certainly not just in the ‘right-brained’! I’m sure we’ve all had a nutty maths teacher. What I don’t like however is affected eccentricity, or people using their art as an excuse to behave strangely.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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