ukHandmade is an amazing online publication which features artists and makers from many disciplines – find great textiles, jewellers, potters, illustrators and artists. Actually it would be a great starting point if you want to buy unique and special gifts but don’t know where to start.
I was thrilled when they got in touch and asked to interview me and sent me some wonderful questions…. I’ve included three below which touch on ideas about how work evolves from different influence and the importance of handmade to us as humans…
Your work has a strong, graphic feel, how has your training influenced your painting style?
The problem solving element of design always appealed to me. The idea of setting a brief I find helpful too – with art the possibilities are endless so it can be very helpful to set some guidelines for yourself. Limitations encourage you to explore. For example, I have filled a sketchbook with colour notes and small paintings done from only three colours when I wanted to learn more about the mixing properties of different paints.
A couple of years ago I spent time working with different printmaking techniques. In a way it didn’t suit me well; creating an etching plate can be so time consuming and the idea of simply reproducing multiple prints didn’t appeal at all! Some of the more unpredictable processes such as spit-bite (where you paint with the acid) I enjoyed and now bring that freedom back to my painting where I now feel more comfortable with welcoming unplanned elements into the work.
I also included elements of pre-printed graphics within the prints as chine collé (the paper is collaged into the paper as the print is being made) and this has now become part of my practice – both in a small collage sketchbook I use to create compositions, and I include collage within the early stages of many paintings just to break the surface.
Overall my work has become edgier in the way I use colour and tone, and I seem to like paintings with clear definition. At the start I’m always thinking about placement and this reminds of balancing a page layout. Towards the end, the changes I make become increasingly subtle and careful and I think this attention to detail amongst the more expressive marks brings a real focus and feeling of attention. That attention to detail definitely comes from my design background.
What does the term handmade mean to you?
It means someone has put something of themselves into it. I think as we grow increasing digital with our interactions there is more need than ever for something which feels human. People have a strong desire for things which are unique and handmade objects or works of art can be intensely satisfying for people. We need that tactile connection which can be missing from much of modern life. I think there is a move away from mass produced items as people make more conscious choices towards things which they treasure and enjoy.
What are the most rewarding and most frustrating aspects to what you do?
The most rewarding is collecting work from the framer. I love the process of working through a painting, but as they near their end it becomes more anxious for me. That moment when you say “there, that’s finished” you are also saying “that’s as good as it gets” and it’s open to judgement. It can be nerve wracking. While they are at the framer I often dream about them, I forget what I finished, I forget the detail… but unwrapping them I have a sense of distance which really allows me to see them fresh and enjoy them. Hanging them at an event and seeing people’s enthusiastic response is always wonderful of course.
What’s frustrating can be all the associated technology we need to know now. My image storage system really needs some work! But getting to grips with all this stuff makes you feel more empowered and I’m stubborn and stick at it until I get what I need. A few years ago I had to track down a photographer for my work and now I have someone I trust and I’m so pleased with the quality of prints I can offer as result. So the headaches are usually worthwhile.
We also talked about advice for those starting a creative business, how to clear creative blocks and how always learning new skills is important to keep fresh. Great questions always make me stop to think – if you have any for me, please ask below or join me over on Facebook
You can read the full magazine here, for free! Look for the Autumn 2017 edition, and flip to page 58 to read the interview with me. Plenty more wonderful artists and makers to explore so I hope this has also introduced you to a new and inspiring resource.