Sue Beyer

Sue Beyer is an emerging artist based in Brisbane, Australia. In 2006 after a 10-year career as a graphic designer, Sue enrolled at the Queensland College of Art (QCA) to pursue fine art professionally. Sue is currently completing third year and is already an active exhibitor. In the past year Sue has been included a number of art prizes and exhibitions including the LAUNCH Clayton Utz Travelling Scholarship, The Churchie Emerging Art Prize, Artworkers Award and the Prometheus Art Prize. Sue has also has been included in exhibitions in the new Gold Coast art space 19Karen.

Sue’s work can be seen online at www.suebeyer.com.au and on her regularly updated blog http://suebeyer.blogspot.com/

they-drew-a-veil-of-darkness-across-the-proceedings

They drew a veil of darkness across the proceedings – 2009
Acrylic, posca pen and ink on canvas – 120cm x 120cm

Let’s start with your Artist’s statement…
“Through the genre of landscape painting, I explore how people use space in a modern urban context and the assumption of the permanence of our way of life and our cities.

In particular I look at patterns of urban design and outer suburban sprawl, which is the product of individual choices concerning the ownership of space, and forms the setting for displaying the trophies of conspicuous consumption.

By doing this I am conducting a social critique on our modern patterns of living expressed through the social consequences of urban design.”

What personally motivated you to begin a career as an Artist?
I have always been a creative person. Art is very important for me. If I’m not creating the stuff in my head, I am not very nice to be around.

After working as a graphic designer for 10 years and being really unhappy I decided that I had to take a chance and be an artist full time. Leaving behind my financial independence and somewhat successful career was extremely difficult for me. But I am the happiest I have ever been.

What I find compelling about Visual Art is that I can get my ideas across to almost anyone and I hope that viewers may question their preconceived ideas about things

it-is-important-to-ensure-that-all-connections-between-the-wires-are-properly-made

It is important to ensure that all connections between the wires are properly made – 2009
Acrylic, posca pen and ink on canvas – 120cm x 120cm

The overlaid maps and architectural elements in your paintings have quite a graphic quality to them; do you think your experience as a graphic designer has influenced your pictorial decision making?
My design background has definitely influenced my decision making, especially in terms of composition and colour.

I really like the line and form that can be found in mapping. I also like maps because they show how we try to make order out of an essentially chaotic landscape.

What are the main medium/s you work in?
Painting in acrylic and oil, and currently installation as well.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
At the moment I am using acrylic because I can get really unnatural colours. It also dries quite fast and I can do more work, more quickly.

police-were-called-in-the-quell-the-chaos

Police were called in to quell the chaos – 2009
Oil on canvas – 120cm x 210cm

Would you describe your work process as fast or slow?
I am a really fast producer. I work obsessively until it is finished and then I make more. I think I am a workaholic.

Do you aim to break the rules of basic composition, layout etc or do you ignore the “rules” and just create?
I always use the golden section in my work. I find that proportion of space it creates very pleasing to the eye. It’s like a failsafe. It always works.

pandemonium-broke-out

Pandemonium broke out – 2009

Oil on canvas – 120cm x 210cm

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I keep journals all the time. I buy the A4 size with blank pages and stick in things that I am interested in, information on other artists I like and ideas for work. I can look back at them anytime and find out why I did things. It’s interesting to look at old journals. Sometimes I get new ideas from the old ones.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
I usually take off the canvas and re-stretch the strainers. I hate wasting materials.

Are there times of the day when you prefer to do your work?
I usually do most of my work from 9am – 5pm, 6 days per week. But I will work whenever the mood takes me. If I am really busy I will work more, but I try to have one day a week for fun.

at-first-i-tried-to-keep-it-a-secret-from-my-neighbours

At first I tried to keep it a secret from my neighbours (night terrors) – 2009
Acrylic on canvas – 3mts long approx

How many artworks do you work on at the same time?

I work on 2-3 pieces at the same time and I usually work on ideas in my head at the same time.

How would you describe your art education?
I am still at uni at the moment. I am in 3rd year at QCA in Brisbane and next year I plan on doing honours. I’d say my art education is helpful to a point. I try to get what I need out of it and ignore the rest.

One word or statement to describe your current works?
Night-vision

Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.

My newest paintings reflect the unseen issues of suburban society.

A suburban residence viewed as through night-vision goggles. A furtive recording, as if from a reconnaissance mission, where the salient details are captured succinctly for later consideration.

The scene is still, with the anticipation of events about to unfold.

A familiar scene on the verge of transition to the strange, representing the dreams and aspirations of a society heading into uncertain times. The fundamental assumptions that make the suburban form possible may no longer hold valid, causing anxiety beneath the calmness of the surface, even as it reaches its fullest expression. The advent of peak oil, climate uncertainty, demographic change, shifting geopolitical realities all impact the stability of a financial system based on risk and the concept of limitless growth.

How will they change the way we view our lifestyle in the coming century?
Will the now commonplace seem strange – how transient are our seemingly permanent marks on the surface of the world?

they-began-to-make-camp-before-darkness-fell

They began to make camp before darkness fell – 2009
Acrylic, posca pen, gouache and ink on canvas – 120cm x 120cm

Has your work changed much since your earliest efforts?
When I first started painting I had no direction. Since 2006 I have been painting about what I am doing now. My technique and concepts are much better than it was a few years ago.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
I identify strongly with the conceptual artists. Concept is everything for me. If I didn’t have a concept I would just be making pretty pictures and that’s not acceptable for me personally.

What fascinates you or inspires your ideas?
I am driven and obsessed about consumerism, town planning/urban design, architecture, space and the home. Sociology, semiotics and psychogeography also fascinate me.

What are you currently working on?
I have recently completed a public art commission for the Queensland State Government and now I will be working on a series of paintings and then an installation in late November

Though still at university you have already been included in some well known art prizes; how do you think selection into such prizes aids your art practice?
I really think it does help to get into these shows when you’re starting out and trying to be noticed. Lots of different people go to those shows and you never know who might be seeing your work and hopefully taking a bit of notice. I never expect to win anything.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
Both political and social.

What sort of depth or meaning is there behind the work you do?
I use semiotics in my work. I like to reference ‘lifestyle’ magazines. In particular modern architecture and the utopian ideals associated with modernism.

You mentioned semiotics a couple of times now; for the benefit of those who haven’t yet studied semiotics could you give a brief explanation or definition of the term?

Semiotics is something that I used a lot in my graphic design practice. Just briefly, semiotics is the study of a system of signs.

For example the colour red can signify things like danger, love, speed or blood. So if I wanted to make a road sign that drivers need to take notice of, I might use the colour red as it draws attention to a potentially dangerous situation that needs to be avoided. Thus, stop signs are red.

Another example of a semeotic sign is that people who identify with the emo subculture generally wear skinny jeans and like the band ‘my chemical romance’. If you heard that someone liked ‘my chemical romance’ you might assume without even seeing them that this person is an emo and wears skinny jeans.

A great website to learn about semiotics is:

http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/semiotic.html

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
I won first prize in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital art award in 2008.

How did your first solo show go?
I did my first solo exhibition last year. It was supposed to be a joint exhibition with another artist but they pulled out. I had lots of work that all related, so I decided to go ahead with it anyway. It was a party! I sold three big paintings, which more than covered my costs, and I had a great time.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had.
I am constantly criticising my work and ideas. I get sick of looking at my work sometimes and question what I am doing. This lasts one or two days at the most and then I am off and running again. I suspect that a lot of artists go through this though.

How important is it to you that your work communicates something to the viewer?
It is important to me that viewers take something away from my work. I don’t want to be overly didactic with my work but I do have a message to get across. I would like the viewer to decide what the work is about. The work guides them to point and then they need to do a bit of work for themselves. It’s a two way thing. Having said that, if a developer or town planner saw my work they would get it straight away because I use their language a lot in my paintings.

What about the role of titles with your work?
I love coming up with titles for my work. I have a process that I use and it is working well so far. The titles are important, as they help to reveal the meaning of the work. Sometimes they might be a puzzle for the viewer.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” what would your response be…?
Are you blind?

Tell us about getting caught in a creative “slump” and how you got out of it?
If I feel like I’m in a slump it usually means that I need a holiday. When it happens I read, watch dvds, go roller skating a lot, anything except making art. The need comes back soon enough.

What or how do you respond to the term “Starving Artist”?
It’s a shame that money has so much control over how a person lives their life. It seems that we don’t have much of a choice in our consumer driven societies, unless you are wealthy, you need to earn money to survive.

How do you establish your art work prices?
I work out my prices by size. When I graduate at the end of this year my prices will go up a few hundred dollars.

Do you have a personal philosophy that underpins your work?
Work hard and then work a bit harder. And don’t get too confident, there’s always someone out there that’s better than you.

Eccentricity is seen as a common trait of artists of many disciplines, how about you?
People have said this about me. I don’t mind, actually I quite like it. It’s better than being boring.

And lastly, interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
Roller Derby!

Want to see more Artist Interviews the day they are posted? Subscribe and we automatically send you the latest post via email, it’s easy click here to subscribe.

Compiled and edited by Amanda van Gils © 2009+

Deb Mostert

Deb Mostert is a Queensland artist whose home and studio is on 3/4 of an acre of bush in Bellbird Park, Ipswich.

An oil painter, Deb uses commonplace objects such as toys and ornaments to set up scenes for her still life paintings. Deb is currently preparing for two solo exhibitions – ‘Bugs on Toy Cars’ at Iain Dawson Gallery from 1st to 12th December and ‘Untold Stories’ in February with her Queensland dealer, Lorraine Pilgrim. (Deb is also represented by Peter Walker Fine Art in Adelaide).

Deb chats with Amanda van Gils about her upcoming exhibitions and about some of her experiences as an artist.

bug20on20toy20car20920oil20on20canvas2042x7220cm20web

Bug on Toy Car 9, oil on canvas 42×72 cm

Your work is currently still life; is there any particular reason you are working in this genre? What is the importance of the objects that you are using – toy cars, insects, dolls, cups and so on – or are the objects themselves quite arbitrary?

I am intrigued by something I once read that the genre of still life was considered by the 15-17th century art establishment as the lowest form of painting. Biblical and history paintings, portraits and landscapes all rated higher than the everyday objects.

I was drawn to the humility of the genre and concepts of the sacred and banal. I am becoming increasingly aware that there is no division in my life between some things being ‘sacred’ and others ‘ordinary’. So even vintage toys and household objects can be metaphors for my spiritual journey.

I love the retro stuff purely because it reminds me of my youth. I search for genuine 50-80’s objects to use because I think they are sufficiently removed from our modern objects to startle us with recognition. I am also very interested in paradox.

The objects I choose to work with are strangely worthless and priceless at the same time. They are often keenly sought after by collectors and this drives the prices beyond my feeble budget. I scrounge second hand stores and buy on e-bay if they are cheap enough but otherwise I borrow from collectors and friends.

Earlier this year I spent a couple of days deep in the bowels of the Sydney Powerhouse Museum Collection Store with beautiful and valuable vintage and antique tin toys that will never get out on display. I was struck by the latent potential these toys had for narrative and so I am making a series of works based on these objects for my next solo show in Feb 2010 which will be entitled ‘Untold Stories’.

Having access to the collection must have been a terrific opportunity for your research.

It was rather wonderful to have a glimpse into the wealth of objects that are kept on the nation’s behalf. I was not allowed to touch anything, and I could only direct the white-gloved curator to move the toys this way and that, so it was quite different to the way I would normally work.

And what can you tell us about the work in the exhibition about to open in Sydney.

The ‘Bugs on Toy Cars’ show is on at Iain Dawson Gallery from the 1st-12th December, it’s my first solo exhibition in Sydney. The work for this show is a light-hearted nod to the Dutch Still Life painters who painted bugs into the grand vanitas of wealth, power and prestige. A memento mori, reminder of mortality.

These works are painted using real bug specimens I purchased from a collector perched on top of vintage and modern matchbox cars. The works are painted in scale.  The scale of the objects is designed to confuse and delight, and often incompatible pieces sit in comfortable tension.

The works can be read in many ways, as the objects become reflectors of the experience of the viewer. My work aims to reveal the narratives that lurk beneath the humble surfaces of plastic, tin and bugs”

You were a practising artist for many years prior to going to art school; what prompted you to undertake formal study? And what difference, if any, has the art school experience made to your career and/or sense of self as an artist?

I had been an artist for over 20 years but when my marriage of 16 years ended and as part of the healing process I had to discover who I was and this led me to take up study again. To be single (and a single mum), to grow and learn in an environment of such creative support was part of what I needed to realise who I really was. I enjoyed every second of it (well, maybe not all the art theory lectures…but most of them).

Allowing myself the room to experiment, learn and mix with a wide variety of other creative’s, was hugely transforming to my art practise. I moved from being an artist who just made pictures, to being an artist who makes pictures with purpose. I think, read and research a lot more, I am more aware of my responsibilities as artist, and my practise is more focused and centred. Uni didn’t give me answers but it made me aware of all the questions!

I also had the opportunity to exhibit in the grad show and the Thiess Awards and it was here that my work was spotted by Lorraine Pilgrim. I have been represented by her ever since.

aluminium-cups-and-robot_oil-on-canvas_100x120cm

Aluminium Cups and Robot, oil on canvas, 100x120cm

Congratulations on recently being awarded the Sponsor Prize at the Eutick Memorial Still Life Awards at Coffs Harbour. You have been a finalist in quite a few prizes during the past few years – what benefits do you see in participating in art prizes?

Thanks!

It has been a very encouraging journey over the last few years. I started entering art prizes on the advice of my agent (Lorraine) and although it can be very demanding to be continually feeding this hungry machine, I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to hang in some exciting shows with artists whose work I really admire.

I also have my fair share of ‘dear john’ letters! It is a strange concept, the art prize thing. Why make a competition out of such an unquantifiable thing as art?

Like every artist, I wonder why I keep entering but I guess deep down it satisfies a need to be seen, to hopefully be ‘selected’ and to have some feedback in what can be a fairly solitary work environment!

I also realise that my worth and indeed the worth of any artist can not and should not be measured by success in art competitions.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?

I guess my work must have a personal message as my work/life/faith is interwoven. I can’t separate one from the other so what’s happening in one area will be reflected across the others. I have become increasingly aware of the love of God for me and it has allowed me so much freedom to be who I am. So I feel the work I am making in these last few years is about that personal journey.

tin-bird-and-lead-man

Tin Bird and Lead Manoil on plywood, 23 x 47 cm

What or who inspires your art?

The heroes of art I’ve always admired have been Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velázquez to name a few. The painters of the Heidelberg School, and more recently I’ve discovered Andrew Wyeth again. I’m also influenced by Michael Luenig and Charles Shultz for their perceptive look at the human condition. And I’m sure there are many others but these come to mind immediately. But mostly I am in awe of a Creator God, for with out Him none of this wealth of creative energy would be possible.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?

Going to Holland was like an artistic pilgrimage although I would need to go back again and again to even begin to see and understand all the art I want to see!! I even found a Jan Mosteart (not sure if he’s a distant relation) in the Rijksmuseum. It was quite wonderful to stand in front of paintings and sculptures I’d only ever seen in publication and revel in the previously unrealised scale and technique.

It made me proud and humbled to be an artist; what a fantastic gift we’ve been given….what a privilege!


bug-on-toy-car-vi_oil-on-canvas_42x72cm_2009

Bug on Toy Car 6, oil on canvas, 42 x 72 cm

Can you share with us some significant moments in your life – events or people who impacted your Art?

I was mentored as a youngster by my aunt Mieke den Otter, who is a fantastic visual artist. (painter, printmaker, textile artist also in Queensland) She encouraged me, gave me art materials, took me to shows, lent me books, took me out drawing and generally invested into me for many years. We have had several exhibitions together and I would say she has been a driving force certainly in the early years of my art practice.

Going to uni, as mentioned earlier was a watershed. Travelling to Holland, Belgium and France during my uni years also helped to consolidate my roots. Both my parents were born in Holland so to go back and see not only my family heritage but also my spiritual and artistic heritage was very important. During my time there, visiting museums and art galleries also reawakened my interest in the still life genre, which is what I’ve been working in for the last few years.

It’s interesting that you mention your Dutch background and the historical import of still life as a genre. When I think of Dutch still life paintings they are quite opulent, loaded with an abundance of objects and symbolism. Yet your works are sparse with the meaning being derived partly from memory and nostalgia, but in the main, from the interaction between the objects that often appear as if they are deep in conversation with each other.

The interaction almost always seems to hijack the work! It’s been fascinating to watch the narratives emerge from conversations between objects. In fact I spend a lot of time ‘playing’ with objects to find the scenarios that allow for more quirky conversation. I enjoy the quiet humour that overrides a lot of the work.  I am fond of the idea that less is more so I tend towards more sparse arrangements and having experimented with more objects together, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just like the look of fewer objects….a purely aesthetic choice. I have also become more aware of the ability of objects to reflect the experiences of the viewer, often people read the same work very differently based on their own paradigms.

aluminium-teapot-and-bugs_70x70cm_oil-on-canvas_2008

Bugs on Aluminium Teapot 80×80 cm oil on canvas

Winner of this year’s Sponsor Prize at the Eutick Memorial Still Life Awards

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
I have always struggled with some of the goofy painting titles I’ve come up with in the past, so I figure I will just stick to the blatantly obvious and call them exactly what they are. Which in strange way, also alludes to everything else they could be…for me and for the viewer.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?

I always carry a visual diary, which serves many purposes. It is a place to dream, design, think visually, experiment, note ideas, write quotes, doodle and generally relax. It enables me to think more easily and take in more of what’s around me. I would really miss it if I didn’t have my visual diary. It’s my spare brain.

As well as an exhibiting artist you have done commissions, residencies in schools and you also teach in your studio. How do you balance the competing demands?

I’m a reasonably organised person; don’t really fit the stereotypical, temperamental, distracted artist type. I see my art as my job as well as my calling so I tackle it in a fairly methodical way. I trained as a commercial artist many moons ago, and I often think that it has left me with some handy practical ways of working. To a deadline, to a budget, within a time line…etc I am also mum to three teenagers so that requires organisational skills purely as a matter of self-defence! My desk diary keeps me sane; things never look so daunting when you write them down. And I have borrowed other people’s aids to organisation too.

How do you continue to grow, or is this not important?

Growth is important; if we aren’t growing we are stagnating. I’d hope to always be learning and moving. One thing I’ve learnt is the older I get, the less I seem to know! So I look forward to exploring, praying, reading, looking and experiencing as much as I can. There is so much out there!

What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out?

I would say ‘to thine own self be true’, that is, find what it is you are meant to create and work hard to realise it.

Accept that ‘overnight success’ can take up to 20 years and that your art practice is a long-term journey.

Be prepared to learn, hone your skills, try new things and accept graciously the criticism of others.

Also brace yourself for being holed up by an enthusiastic non art-making member of society who – upon discovering you are an artist – will inform you that their cousin is an artist, and proceed to describe their paintings to you while being astonished that you don’t know them personally. Sigh.

delft-blue-dog-in-dish-2

Delft Blue Dog in Dish 2007 oil on canvas 80×80 cm

Deb Mostert’s Sydney exhibition opens 6-8 pm Wednesday 2nd Dec 2009 at Iain Dawson Gallery 72a Windsor Street Paddington NSW.

Her work can be seen online at any of her galleries websites and also on her website www.debmostertartist.com.au

Lorraine Pilgrim http://www.lorrainepilgrim.com/

Iain Dawson Gallery http://www.iaindawson.com/pages/exhibitions.php

Peter Walker Fine Art http://www.peterwalker.com.au/

Want to see more Artist Interviews the day they are posted? Subscribe and we automatically send you the latest post via email, it’s easy click here to subscribe.

Compiled and edited by Amanda van Gils © 2009+

How have you used them?

People tell me from time to time they have liked the sites (this one and the artstuff.net.au one… see the testimonials) and occasionally people have told me how they have used them.

Most say there are interviews in here which are inspirational to read and then explore the work of that artist, some who are Art Teachers have mentioned they invite their students to explore the ideas, techniques and creativity boosters especially if they are stuck for ideas.

I spend time wondering about how things are used in here too…. So in the comments I would love to hear what you thought, think etc about the sites and how you use them.

In the mean time here are some of the ways people have used the information.

So, what about  you?