Artist Interview: Sue Fraser


Magic happens when two celebrated artists join forces in a visual storytelling exhibition that centres around the Grimm brothers tales. Picnicking With the Wolves opens tomorrow (Friday 25 Jan) at East Gippsland Art Gallery. Klara Jones and Sue Fraser  are both masterfully skilled artists who will be enthralling viewers with their combined work in this much anticipated exhibition.

I have previously had the honour of interviewing Klara Jones as she was preparing for Picnicking With the Wolves; today I am delighted to share an interview with her fellow exhibitor, the exquisitely talented Sue Fraser.

Interview

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Sue Fraser and I’m a printmaker.

Why do you do what you do?

I print because I really enjoy the entire process. Even after 25 years of printmaking I still find the process labour intensive, frustrating and rewarding.

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Lore Writer. 49 x 39.5 cm

How do you work?

In the house I do what has to be done to keep the ‘home fires burning’, and then go out to the studio. Of course there are lots of distractions but I like to spend as many hours as I can  in the studio each day. I like routine.

What’s your background?

Teacher, wife, missionary (Vanuatu, 53 years ago), mother, brick layer (mud brick), student again in my 50’s, artist.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Persistence.

What role does the artist have in society?

Almost everything we use (or possess) begins with a line, a drawing. Clothes, cooking utensils, furniture, cars, buildings etc. Society is made up of artists in many disguises, all making life either easier or more challenging for us!

What has been a seminal experience?

Life on the Pacific Islands before the time of holiday resorts and tourist shops.

Explain what you do?

I love relief printing. I mainly work with lino, usually print with black, sometimes hand colour. I draw onto the plate with white charcoal pencil,  This allows me to rub out easily, and start all over again – stops me becoming too precious about the drawing. I write down ideas about things I’ve heard or seen, and they provide the basis for most of my images, very rarely do I copy from a sketchbook.

How has your practice changed over time?

My work  hasn’t changed dramatically. I’m better at using positive and negative lines now and work on a larger scale.

What work do you most identify with?

Architecture, as the moment I step into a building, of any type, it has an affect. I love art of all kinds but architecture – domestic, religious, commercial, or educational has the power to impress me, whether good or bad, always. We connect with buildings , we walk into them, they surround us, they exude a personality by just being.

What work do you most enjoy doing?  

Printmaking

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Mostly Water. 50.5 x 35 cm

What themes do you pursue?

The strength, beauty and frailty, cruelty – the oddness that is us!

What’s your favourite artwork?

There are so many but Johannes Vermeer’s little painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, came immediately to mind when I read this question. But so did  the wonderful small paintings of Alfred Wallis,  and the fabulous work of Rover Thomas.

Describe a real life situation that inspired you?

Our son, who at the age of 17 decided he wanted to be an artist. He has lived in Barcelona for many years now and lives from his art. He hasn’t made a fortune but has shown us that a simple lifestyle, doing what you love to do, is precious beyond words.

Why art?

Why not art?

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Losing the Plot. 62.5 x 60.5 cm

What is an artistic outlook on life?

An artistic outlook on life is keeping eyes and minds open to both the beauty and the destruction of the world  around us. It is also the willingness to make something – draw, paint, garden, build.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The first time my little etching was selected by the Print Prize in Western Australia when I was still an undergrad student just ‘blew me away’, having a print in all of the Silk Cut exhibitions, being asked to be part of curated shows by artists I’d never met, having a work bought by the Gippsland Art Gallery in Sale VIC. And whenever people buy a print I am really ‘chuffed’.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

No, not really. There are many artists in the area, and lots of people interested in art. And I like working in solitude.

What do you dislike about the art world?

The art world doesn’t annoy me, but I live in a very small part of it. I’m sure snobbishness, one upmanship etc exist but I don’t really come across it, or am too ‘thick’ to notice it. I think  the art world in my ‘neck of the woods’ is fabulous. It’s exciting that so many people can connect with art – from the mum who paints at the kitchen table, to the colourful ‘arty’ students decked out in their fabulous clothing, to the oldies like me who work away in their  studios, and the brilliant artists who just love ‘having a go’ and do just that!

What do dislike about your work?

Often the drawing.

What do you like about your work? 

When the drawing works. When I manage to convey the message/idea I aimed to convey.

Should art be funded?

Yes

What role does arts funding have?

Funding is vital as it enriches and educates the community. Love or hate an art piece it still has the power to challenge us, maybe inspire us, educate, thrill (or horrify) us. It helps to create a well rounded community and to realise the world is seen differently by all of us.

What research do you do?

Visit galleries, talk to other artists, read and look, look, look. So much beautiful, horrifying, diverse art to be found in every country.

What is your dream project?

I don’t have a dream project…..except to have an exhibition of life sized linos.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared with?

Paula Rego, Barbara Hanrahan, Kathe Kollwitz

Favourite or most inspirational place.

Another difficult question with no one place in first place.  The Alhambra, in Granada, Spain, the Australian deserts and its forests, all have equal billing.

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The Wolf Still Dresses Up. 2017. 90 x 100 cm

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A lecturer once told me, when I was feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the mostly much younger students at uni who all seemed to draw beautifully, to just “be truthful to the way you draw, and one day people will say ‘Sue Fraser drew that”. That has turned out to be true….

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The Woodsman. 57 x 45.5 cm

Professionally, what’s your goal?

To keep working, and to stretch my boundaries.

What wouldn’t you do without?

Notebook and pencil.

It has been an honour and delight to interview Sue Fraser and Klara Jones. Here’s wishing them both a most wonderful and successful exhibition. Picnicking With the Wolves, hosted by East Gippsland Art Gallery, 2 Nicholson Street, Bairnsdale, Victoria, 3875.

Artist Interview: Klara Jones


What do you do when one of your good friends is also an incredibly inspirational and dedicated multi-media artist? Well, you interview them of course! 🙂

The Interview

Who are you and what do you do? 

I can call myself an artist after 20 years of self doubt. I do painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, but first and foremost, I draw.

Why do you do what you do? 

Because I cannot stop. I get tetchy and irritated if I don’t draw for a while.
Ideas also swirl through my head and, like winding up a clock, sooner or later it is fully wound up and ready to come out as a sketch, drawing, painting, etc.

How do you work? 

I get passionate about my project, read and research as much as I can, talk to friends/artists, sketch ideas as I go. I need to be alone once I start working. People distract me then. I’m currently working on the kitchen table as the studio room I have is too small and cluttered, and cold in the winter. I start the studio day doing household chores so I can then focus on my art without distraction. It would be a dream to have a studio away from the house. It is also helpful to have a few projects on the go, or an exhibition date to work to. Otherwise work (my other job), life, family, friends call me away.

 

What’s your background? 

I’m from a Central European background, Hungary and Romania. I have been told my subject matter and style is quite dark.

I’ve studied only through TAFE (Adult Education College), first with a certificate in art and design, then working towards a diploma in visual arts. Something I never completed, however it gave me skills in film photography and darkroom process, as well as painting, drawing and printmaking.

I found the more teachers one has over time, the more one learns.

I had to leave study to work and picked up a job as a graphic designer based on a folio of drawings.

 

 

What’s integral to the work of an artist? 

The freedom to explore. Supportive friends and family who respect my art as work. Being part of an artist community to share ideas and solidarity.

Permission to allow myself to go into the studio even if it’s not a productive day.

Discipline to stay in there when it’s a beautiful day outside or my art isn’t working out.

What role does the artist have in society? 

In good times, the artist can feed the soul with beauty or thought-provoking work. In bad times, the artist can feed the soul and create a temporary escape. Without artists, there would be no movies, fashion, aesthetics in architecture or cars, furniture, watches, clothing. It is all around us.

 

What has been a seminal experience? 

That moment for me was in 1986 at the Brisbane Art Gallery, QLD. I went to see the 20thCentury Masters exhibition of works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. I walked around a corner and saw Picasso’s ‘Woman in White’. The sight of it knocked the air out of me and staring at it was the moment I thought I must learn to create work as beautiful.

Explain what you do in 100 words 

I draw mostly, sometimes whimsical pen and inks, sometimes more serious portraits and nudes. I love the face, the body, the person. It is an endless exploration – from describing the curves and lines that create a figure, to the folly of human character.

I prefer black and white as so much can be described with tone, line and texture. Colour can sometimes confuse the message, although it has its uses for emotion and interest.

 

How has your practice changed over time 

I think I’ve grown more skilled and confident. I used to worry that I wasn’t selling work and making a living from it. For me now, it’s not about earning money, it’s about having something to say and sharing it. Also, I don’t need to worry about what will sell and making it ‘commercially appealing’.

It has always been about making people smile, feel an emotion or to think.

What art do you most identify with? 

The line. Whether it is drawing, etching or big calligraphic brush strokes.

What work do you most enjoying doing? 

Drawing. Whether it’s the feint spidery tickle of pencil on cartridge, the dark, thick smudge of charcoal or the danger of nib pen and with Indian ink (danger being the potential to splat on the page if I am not concentrating).

Or, I could say, whatever I am doing when the flow hits me.
When I paint, I fall in and out of love with the painting depending on what stage it is at.
I love the technical side as well, so printmaking or working in the darkroom developing photos is great.

 

What themes do you pursue? 

Human nature and story telling. I’m currently reading Grimm’s tales. It works on so many levels: love, escape, morals, adventure, the protagonist ending with success, good guys, bad guys, tragedy, sometimes magic or a gift, evil, fragility, resistance, honesty, bravery, perseverance.

What’s your favourite art work? 

That is tough. It’s like asking what is my favourite song.

Probably depending on my mood at the time.

Many artworks.
Woman in White remains one of my favourite paintings. It is serene, multi-layered but with simple, muted colour. William Dobell’s portrait of Helena Rubenstein in the NGV Australia. A wood bas relief of Salome from the 14thC in the NGV International. Eastern European religious icons. Otherwise, anything by Caravaggio or several Australian and local Gippsland artists.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you? 

Warsaw National Museum, a student, Erik, from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, was painting a 1:1 scale of Jan Matejko’s ‘Battle of Grunwald’. Size of the original is 10 metres wide x 4metres deep. Erik was painting it in twelve panels over two years. His dedication to the project made me think to lift my game.

I also know two art teachers, who are partners. They both work fulltime and raise a child. They each take a turn in the studio after work whilst the other sorts out the family, dinner and housework. This is discipline. And it works.

Why art? 

Art is important to life. My life. Also to everyone. To live without it would make life dull.

What is an artistic outlook on life? 

Seeing beauty in small things or trying to draw attention to the everyday.

Problem solving by not always thinking logically.

What memorable responses have you had to your work? 

My first solo exhibition. I had no idea if anyone would turn up. It was crowded and I sold 2/3 of the work on opening night. As much as selling the work wasn’t so important, it was validation that it was worthwhile and people connected with it.

A few people said they had cried when they saw pieces I had made.

 

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it? 

It can be lonely. When I’m busy or have limited time I don’t notice it.

I might take a little break or an evening off. Spend time with my partner or call family or a friend.

When people come to visit I cannot work and have to pack up and pay attention to them. I must be careful not to spend too much time alone.

What do you dislike about the art world? 

One comment about me once, “but she only draws.” No he hadn’t seen anything else I have done over the years but the comment was still insulting.

I see drawing as a means in itself, not a means to an end.

Art investment that follows trends, rather than talent.

Pretentiousness with only mediocre work.

Snobbishness – when one must have the right CV to become short-listed for an art prize and come from the ‘right’ art school. It should be judged on how accomplished and imaginative the artist is and the artwork should speak for itself.

 

What do you dislike about your work? 

That I only draw.

Sorry, no, that’s not true.

That I don’t draw enough.

That I don’t do anything enough.

That I can get distracted.

That I thought after 20 years I would be more accomplished. I see art and skill as levels. Always chasing the next level and hoping not to go backwards.

What do you like about your work? 

I like when I get it right and cannot criticise it. I enjoy looking at some pieces even years later.

Should art be funded? 

Well, YES!

What role does arts funding have? 

It allows artists the chance to explore their ideas without compromise, pays for art material, allows communities to have projects when they couldn’t otherwise realise their ideas. There is a cultural aspect to a society and part of the government’s job is to promote the culture within the society.

 

What research do you do? 

Internet, reading books on topics, techniques, visiting galleries, talking with fellow artists, or non-artists, on topics I might need to learn.

What is your dream project? 

The one I am doing – Grimm’s tales.

Then the next one…

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to. 

Sue Fraser, local Gippsland artist.

Kathe Kollwitz, German expressionist artist.

Aubrey Beardsley

Favourite or most inspirational place 

NGV International and NGV Australia in Melbourne. After his death in 1904, Alfred Felton left money to the National Gallery of Victoria, which has been used to invest in artwork, making it one of the best galleries in the world. I always have a little thrill when I see ‘Felton Bequest’ next to an artwork.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

Don’t start the details too early in a drawing. Keep it general for a while until you know it is correct.

Also, if the eye is in the wrong place (for example), even if it’s the best eye you have ever drawn, rub it out and correct it.

Professionally, what’s your goal? 

To be professional in my art and its presentation. To not settle for a lesser work if I can re-do it better.

What wouldn’t you do without? 

Staedler Mars Lumograph pencils. They’re not top-of-the-range, but are still smooth to draw with. I can carry them anywhere. Plus a sketchbook for sketching people, taking notes in galleries or thrashing out ideas anywhere, anytime. These two are the most basic things. Everything else is fluff.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and processes with us Klara.

To see more of Klara’s work visit her Instagram page below:

Klara Jones, Instagram

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Artist Interview: Michele Clamp


It is my great pleasure to introduce readers to British artist Michele Clamp, scientist turned watercolourist.

The Interview

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Michele Clamp and I am a watercolour artist.

Why do you do what you do?

I am tempted to reply ‘Because I can’. If you had the opportunity to create beautiful things that reflect who you are as a person and how you see the world why wouldn’t anyone? But maybe that’s too glib an answer. On a day to day basis painting simply makes life worth living. Even when the work goes badly (as it often does) it is still worthwhile. Painting is difficult, frustrating, unpredictable, and often not taken seriously by many. And objectively I am unlikely to go down in art history and sometimes it seems unlikely I’ll make a living at it. But none of that detracts from the satisfaction of setting your brushes down at the end of the day with something new on the easel. If, as I am lucky to have happen, other people want to take your work into their homes and it gives them pleasure in their lives so much the better.

How do you work?

Regularly. That’s the main thing. I have a routine – go upstairs to the studio, put the lights on, put the radio on. Open the palette, top up any colors that are running low. Arrange the brushes and get the water pot filled with fresh water. Tape a fresh piece of paper to the empty board resting on the easel. It’s almost a ritual and it’s necessary. I am then in the right frame of mind to prod around in my subconscious to find out what I am itching to do.

As I am a watercolour painter and paint quickly I almost always complete a painting in a single session. This creates a lot of forward momentum as the weeks go by and I can move from subject to subject quickly. Other times I’ll work in series over a month or so. It could be birds one month, cityscapes another.

Even if a brush isn’t put to paper on any given day ideas are bubbling through my mind. These could be ideas for subject matter, design or style. A big portion involves reflecting on past works that may or may not have succeeded. What do I like, want don’t I like. Did I capture the light or the mood? Did it capture something about the moment that I didn’t expect and can I build on that.

What is your background?

Like many artists my interest was sparked in childhood. My father was a talented amateur artist when he was young but only had a limited amount of time to spend on it when I was a child.  Even so I remember sitting beside him as he sketched outside. I had my own small sketchbook and tried to learn from him as he drew landscapes in the Essex countryside, marking in color and lighting notes as he went. These were intended to be preparatory sketches for larger oil paintings but sadly these almost never came to pass. However, I had almost no detectable talent at that point. My mother is still incredulous that I’ve ended up painting as she often remarks how bad I was in those years. It turned out that the art bug didn’t bite me hard until I was about 13. Somehow something clicked in a school art lesson. Mrs Amner our art teacher had put a group of us in front of a huge old mechanical typewriter and we were instructed to draw it. Not an easy subject for us but the longer I looked the more the complex mechanical shapes made sense and my pencil followed suit. I’d discovered the pleasure of truly seeing something and representing it on paper.

I loved painting and drawing throughout the rest of my school years and did them both in parallel with science and maths. When it came to deciding on college I plumped for science and went on to do a degree in physics at Oxford followed by a PhD. Art was on the back burner for many years. I had a wonderful career in science and worked in many interesting areas including the Human Genome Project. My science career took me from Oxford to Cambridge to MIT and Harvard and I was extremely lucky to be part of the genomics revolution over the past couple of decades.

I always knew I’d come back to art at some point although I didn’t know when. It’s little appreciated that science is a hugely creative endeavor. Like art it’s also all-consuming – you can’t dabble and expect to do it well. So after emerging 5 years ago from immersion in the research world I needed a creative outlet again. And watercolour was there waiting.

From 2012 to the end of last year I balanced painting with working. This year, however,  we bit the bullet,  quit our jobs and I get to paint full time.  It’s bliss.

What is integral to the work of an artist?

Ah. There’s a quote about science by the famous physicist Richard Feynman that pops into my mind here. ‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.’ So honesty, humility, and at least an attempt to keep the ego on a short leash.

What role does an artist have in society?

Wow.  That’s a biggie.

What has been a seminal experience?

These are all hard questions but this one stumped me for a long while. I have to admit that I am not one of those artists that hate everything they do. Not that I’m uncritical (not at all) but I’m usually pretty positive about the work I produce. Very rarely does something emerge that is totally worthless in my eyes. I am self-aware enough to realise that I am hugely biased and lucky enough that I don’t need huge amounts of external validation. A year after I had returned to painting, however, something happened that made me think this wasn’t just an activity to please me. I used to go to a lot of classes at the local adult education centre in Cambridge, Mass. and they’d regularly run shows with students work.    When I’d been painting for about a year I managed to get 8 pieces into their summer show. I’d put prices on them but really had no expectations in that area.  When I arrived at the opening I was astounded that 3 had already sold.   As the evening went on 3 more sold and I was emailed by someone later to buy another one.  One painting was so popular the  organisers emailed me to ask if I had anything similar as they’d had so many requests.   It gave me huge confidence that this wasn’t just a solo journey.   

How has your practice changed over time?

The big thing was understanding how important just showing up is.

What art do you identify most with?

We live in a very noisy world. So shouty art is not my thing. Art that screams at you and grabs you by the lapels is not for me. I like art that slowly gets under your skin. Art that creeps up on you over a period of time. Art that you come back to after years away and go ‘Ah yes now I get it’. Subtlety, nuance, layers, longevity. I’m British – what do you expect?

What work do you most enjoy doing?

Oh that’s easy – good work. Definitely good work. Seriously though it’s easier to answer that by thinking about the work I don’t enjoy doing. And that is work that I do when I start taking myself too seriously. Stuff that I plan when things are going well and I think I’m really getting to the next level. I get really ambitious and start large complicated paintings and work really hard and all the fun goes out of it. I start fooling myself in other words. I learned early on that your really good work comes from painting what you want to paint. However you don’t consciously choose what you want to paint – it comes from somewhere below the surface and it takes practice to let that side of yourself free.

What is your favourite artwork?

That is far too difficult a question to answer. If I absolutely had to pick one it would be John Sell Cotman’s Chirk aqueduct. It’s a watercolour (of course) and I first came across it as a kid in one of my parent’s art books. It has everything I love – subtle colors, strong design and I enjoy it a little more every time I come across it. The composition is slightly off kilter – it looks as though it doesn’t quite fit on the page. It’s a little disconcerting the first few times you come across it but it’s that little bit of quirkiness that offsets the restrained colors and apparent lack of action.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

Hmm. Is it any lonelier than all the corporate nonsense I’ve had to deal with elsewhere? Performance reviews, 360 assessments, endless pointless meetings, snotty emails, deadlines and justifications? Nope, not really. Just don’t look at the bank balance.

Hethersett-Church
Hethersett Church, Norfolk UK. Michele Clamp. Watercolour 8”x10”

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

A few months after I’d started painting again regularly I was showing someone photos of what I’d been doing on my phone. I was still feeling my way but some were good, some not so good, but there was definitely something worthwhile there. On one photo they stopped – it was a quick watercolour still life sketch.   I’d managed to do something with lush colour and broad brushstrokes and it had confidence and ease and energy. ‘Oh Michele’ they said, ‘If only you could live your life the way you paint’.    That comment has always stayed with me.

What wouldn’t you do without?

My husband James Cuff.  Constantly supportive and encouraging even when things aren’t going well.  And makes a mean gin and tonic.

 

Thank you for the insightful interview Michele. To see more of Michele’s work please contact her on the details below.

Website :       micheleclamp.com

For Sale:        micheleclamp.com/paintings-for-sale

Instagram:    @micheleclamp

Email:             michele@micheleclamp.com

Facebook:      MicheleClampArt

 

Beauty, one brushstroke at a time.

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Artist Interview: Julee Latimer


I have a treat for readers today! An exclusive and in-depth interview with one of the most interesting artists I have had the pleasure of speaking to; contemporary artist Julee Latimer. What Julee does with paint will make you look at the materiality of paint in a whole new way!

The Interview

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Julee Latimer and I make beautiful things.

Why do you do what you do?

I have a passion for creating, for making things with my hands.

How do you work?

I start with a colour. Making a work often revolves around one colour in all of its nuances. I make a number of pour paintings all using different varieties of one colour with possible additions of analogous hues. When dry I use these paintings to fragment, layer, and weave. If I am working 2D, these pieces end up on a canvas. When working 3D I test techniques for enabling free standing or suspended form. As I progress, the work often begins to remind me of something and the name springs from there. Sometimes I have an idea in mind, such as a mythological place or a sunset. It is only impressions of the colours that these ideas bring, so again, I begin with colour.

All of this takes place in my studio whilst listening to audio books in a loop and drinking green tea from a gorgeous patterned teapot.

What is your background?

I have drawn and painted all of my life, changing the spelling of my first name when I was about 8 in readiness for becoming a famous artist. I did a degree in Interior Design stopping 6 months before the end as I realized that the big picture does not interest me as much as the details I then studied Colour Therapeutics.. I moved countries 12 times in 17 years and whilst living in Indonesia I read an article about mosaics. It started an obsession that lasted years. I worked professionally as a mosaic artist completing residencies in schools, exhibiting widely, including a solo in New York. I wrote a book ‘Sculptural Secrets for Mosaic’ and taught the art form in Sweden and then in Melbourne. I also worked as a freelance knitwear designer for a time. Four years ago, my practice moved away from glass and into paint again. I am currently in the final stages of my BFA with a double major in Painting and Sculpture.

What is integral to the work of an artist?

Trust, belief, dreams and solitude.

Latimer, Julee. Bombe-belicious
Latimer, Julee. Bombe-belicious. 2017. Acrylic and glass beads.17 x 21 x 21cm

What role does an artist have in society?

All artists are different. I should like to transport my audience into another world and to add some beauty to their lives. I would like my work to make the viewer stop for a while to contemplate.

What has been a seminal experience?

In terms of my painting it was the realization that I could work on plastic. This freed up a whole new direction where I could use paint in its dried form as a basis for sculptural techniques. I was also mighty relieved to say goodbye to the paintbrushes, I have never liked the feel of them in my hands.

Explain what you do in 100 words.

I bring impressions to life. Hmmm… 95 words to go…

I use the back of the paintings as much as the front. I make sculptural works out of paint. I make art for inside and out. I like to paint everything vivid colours. I am continually working on new explorations to incorporate into my work. I love the idea of taking mundane materials and transforming them into something remarkable.

How has your practice changed over time?

Early on I tried to draw and paint realistically, but felt the need to look closer, closer, and closer until the works were more abstract. I like to create beauty so was drawn to the sparkle of glass and used it in all of its forms to make mosaic. I like to create three dimensionally so quickly began to make sculpture to place glass onto. I like textural works so gravitated toward making unique knitwear. Now I combine all of this into my painted creations.

What art do you identify most with?

I take a lot of inspiration from fibre art and craft practices. I think though, whatever I do, I tend to do it abstractly.

What work do you most enjoy doing?

Losing myself in colour, thinking up new ways to use colour, deciding which colours to explore next and how. Fragmenting works and putting them back together again.

What themes do you explore?

My works seem to revolve around the unseen, impressions, invisibility and changing perceptions.

What is your favourite artwork?

I don’t have one.  Artists I admire come and go according to what I am working on at the time. At the MOMA exhibition, NGV Melbourne, the three artworks I was most moved by were the shadows cast by Anni Albers weaving, Al Loving’s torn canvasses and El Anatsui’s bottle cap wall hanging. Although I paint, I am only rarely inspired by other painters.

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Latimer, Julee. Eye Candy. 2017. Acrylic on canvas. 38 x 115cm.

Describe a real life situation that inspired you.

I think that the constant moving that took up a large part of my life plays an indirect role in the way I see the world – in flashes and glimpses (stopping and starting) rather than full on and complete. Lately, for example I created paint weavings to symbolise the memories of past homes and the people I have left behind. But this recent project is the first that has dealt directly with the influence the moving has had on me and I found it very draining. The moving also indirectly influences the way I often work with ideas of invisibility and lack of support, both of which are felt when moving to a new country, in my experience. Mostly, I think I process information by fragmenting it, whether emotional or visual. For example, I couldn’t decide on a flavour at the Gelati Bar a few weeks ago. I came away from that experience with impressions of the pattern and swirl of the myriad of colours. This played out in my Gelati painting. So it is not all inspirations of great depth.

Why art?

Why breathe…?

What is an artistic outlook on life?

It is appreciating the unseen space that exists between the layers of life.  It is seeing the beauty in the ordinary.

What is a memorable response you have had to your work?

When one of my paintings was featured in Art Edit magazine, it was critiqued by three interior designers. One of them said “it was like a psychedelic jewel box or a slice through the earth of a land made totally of candy” (Brett Mickan, 2016). I liked that description as it suggested the playfulness of a kaleidoscopic journey. The Untitled work became Candyland.

Latimer, Julee. Near or Far. 2018. Acrylic and metal mesh.105 x 60cm

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

It can be isolating and there is a great deal of alone time, but that does not necessarily equate to loneliness. I tend to look up every few months and realize that I need company. I arrange dates to catch up with friends and invariably eat too much café food along the way.

What do you dislike about the art world?

Launches – my own and other peoples.

Business – the need to market myself on umpteen online platforms.

Finances – the way in which galleries will promote the artists who sell over the many artists who are making fabulous work and could sell, given half the chance.

Discounts – galleries who offer reductions of any kind on artwork. It puts out the wrong message, looks unprofessional and means that work hours often go unpaid.

Fees – the extortionate fees required to exhibit or to enter art prizes.

What do you dislike about your work?

I dislike having to sort out the irritating stuff, like how it will hang, can it suspend without seeing the fixings and how will it transport if someone wants to buy it. Specifically, I dislike everything I do in the middle part of its creation. I think of my process like a journey, the upward incline of excitement as the idea takes shape. The drop into the shady valley when it looks nowhere near as good as in my head. The mountain top I reach when the work is finished and I can’t believe I actually achieved the result I wanted. For this reason, and for my sanity, I always work on a number of pieces at one time.

What do you like about your work?

I like the vast amount of alone time it affords me. I like being surrounded by the colours that I resonate with. I like that I make use of my hands to create wonder on a daily basis, assuming it all goes to plan. Mostly I love to be able to bring my imagination to life in interesting visual ways.

Latimer, Julee. Sunset. 2017. Acrylic on canvas.183 x 60cm

Should art be funded?

Hell yes.

What role does art funding have?

It validates what we do and allows us equal footing with those who have a regular monthly pay packet.

What research do you do?

I do a lot of googling and reading art magazines, both online and in print. I visit the NGV (International and Australian) a fair bit, getting to as many curator talks as I can.

What is your dream project?

To realize my ideas at huge scale by the creation of works that people can be enveloped in. Ideally this would be at the NGV and I would be paid for it (handsomely). I would have a team of practically minded assistants. I would also have a marketing agent to shield me from too much reality, such as TV appearances

What three artists would you like to be compared to?

I have no interest in being compared to anyone. I feel that one of the most insulting things an artist can hear is ‘your work is so similar to…….’

Latimer, Julee. Avalon. 2018. Acrylic and paper on canvas. 91 x 91cm

Favourite or most inspirational place?

I have a studio in Venus Bay, South Gippsland. It is peaceful there facing a farm filled with cows and kangaroos. There are cockatoos and galahs squawking, butterflies flitting and the scent of jasmine and lavender on the air. There is the roar of the ocean in my ears. I can think clearly there and the emphasis is not as much on outcomes as it is in my home studio.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

I have thought long and hard over this question and cannot think of anything in particular. However, I like this quote although I have no idea who said it, “do what makes you happy and the money will follow”, beautiful sentiment and it is so nice to be happy whilst I wait.

Professionally, what is your goal?

To have gallery representation worldwide. To be in major international collections. To have articles written about me and my work. To be able to afford a marketing agent and professional photographer. To be awarded grants to exhibit internationally. To pay a teenager to handle all social platforms.

What wouldn’t you do without?

My family and colour.

 

Thank you Julee for baring your artistic soul to us with your insights and for sharing your beautiful works.

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If you’d like to see more of Julee’s work she can be reached via the links below.

Web               www.juleelatimer.com

Gallery           www.bluethumb.com.au/julee-latimer 

Facebook        www.facebook.com/ArtbyJuleeLatimer

 

 

I am a member of blogging communities, you will find my posts here too:
https://guestdailyposts.wordpress.com/guest-pingbacks/
https://plus.google.com/u/2/communities/103525137929319878376

 

Artist Interview: Thomas LaBadia


I am happy to announce the return of our Artist Interviews. The first series was popular with readers, I am certain the 2nd series will be too.

In this first interview of the new series I’d like to extend a warm welcome to American artist Thomas LaBadia. Tom’s paintings have mesmerised me and I was understandably thrilled that he agreed to be interviewed on the site. This in-depth interview is jam-packed with many of his beautiful artworks. Enjoy!

nostradamus
Nostradamus. 2018. Mixed Media: Acrylic Paint, Black/White Charcol over collage. Size: 24 x 20

Who are you and what do you do?
I am Thomas LaBadia, I am an art director, graphic/web designer and a mixed media artist.

Why do you do what you do?
I have been creative my entire life, so it was natural for me to pursue a career as a graphic designer. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to try more traditional ways of creating.  Although I was a digital artist for several years, I felt that I wanted to step away from the computer and work with my hands.

How do you work?
I find that working intuitively is what works best for me. I allow my paintings to be what they want to be. Although I often start out with an idea, or begin by following a lesson plan of some kind, I find that I am most successful when I allow the painting to guide me.

Tom2
King For A Day. 2018. Mixed Media: Acrylic Paint, charcoal and Pastel pencil. Size: 18 x 20

What’s your background?
I have been a graphic artist for over 20 years and I have lived in South Florida for almost 30 years. Prior to that I was a hairdresser and a salon owner in a small upstate NY town.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?
Authenticity to me is necessary if an artist wants to create work that is original and personal. Although I think it is also important to study the work of other artists, I think the goal is to use what you learn in your own unique way and not to copy someone else’s style or identity.

What role does the artist have in society?
I think that most things in life include art in some way. I think a visual artist can connect people who would otherwise be disconnected, and connection is always a positive thing.

Tom3
The Truth is a Beautiful Thing. 2017. Mixed Media: Collage, Colored Pencil, Acrylic Ink, Pen. Size: 20 x 20

What has been a seminal experience?
A few months ago I was at a local gallery where I ran in to an artist I had taken private lessons with for several months. He is a highly skilled portrait artist and his work is very photorealistic. Although it was never my intention to create photorealistic portraits, I have always admired his amazing technical skills. As we were both staring at an extremely expressive, technically ‘off’ portrait that was the furthest thing from photorealistic, he turned to me and said “I wish I could paint like that, but when I try I just can’t stop myself from going back and ‘fixing everything. I just can’t do it and wish I could.”

It was then I realized that being able to work expressively was also a skill and that creating picture perfect portraits was maybe not as important to me as it once was.

Tom6
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Acrylic. Size: 10 x 12

Explain what you do in 100 words
At the present time I am working exclusively on mixed media portraits, mostly of men with beards. Although I work in a variety of mediums, I am mostly starting my portraits in acrylic and finishing them in charcoal or pastel pencil.

How has your practice changed over time
Although I painted often as a child, as an adult it was like starting over. There is so much to learn when you are just starting out. Not only are you missing the technical skills you need to accomplish what you want, you are also learning how to use art supplies properly at the same time. When I first reintroduced art practice to my life, I was not focused and had no direction whatsoever. I was easily intoxicated by the next great class or art supply I wanted to master and as a result I did not grow as fast as I have this last year when I decided to focus exclusively on portraits. I think artists tend to be easily distracted (I know I am.) I would say that is what has changed the most, forcing myself to stay focused on one thing at a time and avoiding distractions.

I also tend to use rather subdued colors now. In the beginning I was really into super bright colors. I don’t find that I do much of that any more.

Tom9
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Acrylic Paint. Size: 20 x 20

What art do you most identify with?
For sure it would be expressive portraits. I love everything about them.

What work do you most enjoy doing?
I love painting men with beards. I think what I love most about beards is how they can transform the look of someone’s face. There are so many styles and shapes that give the face an added dimension.

What themes do you pursue?
Men with beards. 

Tom11
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Mixed Media: White/Black Gesso, Acrylic and Charcoal. Size: 15 x 20

What’s your favourite art work?
I love any of Andrew Salgado’s portraits. His work is so unique and so expressive.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Last year I went on a mini-vacation to New Orleans. Although I met friends and we spent a couple of days together, I had a few days by myself to explore. I spent that time in the French Quarter exploring many of the amazing galleries and meeting artists. Although I was already familiar with the work of David Harouni, seeing it in person really inspired me. I think it is impossible to really experience art the same way on a computer screen. I know that even with my own work, I find it impossible to take photos that show off the color and texture as one might experience the piece in person.

When I got to meet David and see his work in person, I was mesmerized by his use of texture, color and the SIZE of his paintings. My appreciation of his work quadrupled just by walking into his gallery and seeing his work in person.

Tom7
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Charcoal Drawing. Size: 18 x 20

Why art?
For me art is like eating and breathing. When I am not working on art I am thinking about working on art. It is just a part of who I am and always has been for as long as I can remember.

What is an artistic outlook on life?
I feel like being an artist is a gigantic gift that I greatly appreciate. Seeing life through the eyes of an artist is almost indescribable because you see so many things that other people don’t ever notice. The way the light shines on something, the textures in nature, how two unrelated objects look together. The possibilities are endless, and art is a part of every moment of every day in some way.

Tom5
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Mixed Media: Acrylic Ink, Black/White Charcoal. Size: 10 x 12

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I recently worked on a piece that was not very well received at home. As you know art is so subjective and while I don’t anticipate everyone falling in love with everything I do, there are pieces that I personally like more then others. Although I loved the piece I am speaking of, I almost didn’t share it because of the extreme negative reaction it received at home. I decided that I would risk sharing it anyway and it was the first time I had four different people approach me, asking if they could buy it. At this point I don’t really sell my art, but it did open me up to the possibility that one day perhaps I might consider it.

Tom4
The Forgotten Superheroes. 2018. Mixed Media: Collage, White/Black Gesso, Colored Pencil, Acrylic Ink. Size: 20 x 20

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I am probably the wrong one to ask. I LOVE being alone. I am happiest when I am in my home, playing music and working on art. I don’t ever want it to end.

What do you dislike about the art world?
I can’t think of anything I don’t like, but I am not actively involved in the art world. I have a few close friends who are artists and I like the online communities I participate in, but other then visiting galleries, I can’t say the art world is a part of my daily life.

What do you dislike about your work?
I wish I could be more accurate and that I could be more successful with hands.

What do you like about your work?
I like that my work has a style of its own that people seem to recognize right away.

Tom8
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Mixed Media: Acrylic and Pastel Pencil. Size: 20 x 24

Should art be funded?
Absolutely.

What role does arts funding have?
They say that children who participate in art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than those who don’t and that early exposure to the arts sharpen minds and creativity. For this reason alone, it is important to fund the arts.

What research to you do?
Other then researching reference photos as a starting point and attending online workshops to learn the ‘how’ part of how to achieve a painting, I can’t say I do a ton of research.

What is your dream project?
The one that I am working on at the moment.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I would rather be known for my own style, than to be compared to someone else.

Tom10
Untitled: Portrait Study. 2018. Mixed Media: Acrylic and Pastel Pencil. Size: 20 x 24

Favourite or most inspirational place
Asheville, North Carolina where I hope to one day retire and live.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I have always loved this quote by Ira Glass. When I first read it, it really resonated with me.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Professionally, what’s your goal?
I am very lucky. I have already achieved my professional goals. I love being an art director and can’t imagine every wanting to do anything else. My paintings I do for myself and have never had an interest in doing things to sell. Although lately I have realized that I may need to sell my work, just to make room in the house. It is starting to take up a lot of room that I don’t have 😊

What wouldn’t you do without?
Art – of course and maybe coffee. 😊

If you’d like to connect with Thomas to see more of his inspirational work you can reach him via his Facebook Profile.

Review: Interview with Doreen Garner


I came across an artist interview in BOMB Magazine online called Memory and Ritual: An interview with Doreen Garner by Forrest Muelrath, confronting the legacy of J. Marion Sims, the father of modern gynaecology. It concerns medical Apartheid, the medial abuse of African American women by a white male doctor. Sims has been exposed by “historical accounts of the brutality involved in the development of his surgical techniques and his racism against black people (Muelrath 2017).” The artist reconstructs severed limbs from prosthetics and other materials that informs her process and supports her conceptual premise. The Sims statue in Central Park, currently surrounded by police barricades and protestors, is the subject of Garner’s November 30th 2017 performance in which she addresses the exploitation of black people.

Her discussion of glass as a medium is insightful, argued to be very flesh-like in its molten form, rigor mortis being simulated as the glass cools and hardens.

The performance exhibition includes a surgical procedure, a vesicovaginal fistulas closure, by black women surgeons on an effigy of Sims, simulating a degrading and painful procedure performed on black women without anaesthesia.

This harrowing and emotional exhibition centres around exposure of a sadist who received acclaim as a white male doctor at the expense of many black female patients. Rather than memorialising him the artist is exposing him for many cruel and degrading procedures he performed that people are unaware of.

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 1.04.36 am

Muelrath, F. 2017. Memory and Ritual: “An Interview with Doreen Garner by Forrest Muelrath.” BOMB Magazine. Archive Issues. https://bombmagazine.org/articles/memory-and-ritual-an-interview-with-doreen-garner/

Artist Interview: Paul Hallam


In this final interview of the current series I am delighted to introduce you to the artwork of Australian artist Paul Hallam. Paul’s work is ‘bouncy’ vibrant and energetic, expressed in popular comic style art; a genre that is sadly often undervalued or underestimated in the art world. Paul’s artistic knowledge of anatomy gives his characters structure and believability  and the quirkiness in his illustrations endear these characters to the viewer while often illustrating a parody or life lesson. Even Paul’s signature on his artworks will induce a smile as it is usually accompanied by a loud exclamation mark!  To follow more of Paul’s work please see the links at the end of the interview.

Cat-Water
Paul Hallam. ‘Cat water’, 2015, 20x21cm, Pen & Ink with digital colours.
  • Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Paul Hallam. I have been married to my wife Carolyn for almost 12 years and we have 4 young children. I currently work as a visual arts teacher’s aide and am studying graphic design, part time at Shillington College, Sydney.

  • Why do you do what you do?

A few reasons. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s the way I am wired.

  • How do you work?

I like trying out a bunch of different materials but my main tools are pen and ink, and digital art programs like Photoshop. I am just beginning to work out how to do my work completely on the computer. I have found that the digital process gives me a lot of freedom to experiment, especially in the rough sketching stage of drawing.

  • What’s your background?

In terms of art, my main background has been comic books. I’ve been reading comics since I was 13 and began drawing my own stories later on in high school. After school, I studied a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) majoring in illustration. That was a lot of fun. I then spent the next 10 years working in a different area before coming back to art and design in 2014.

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

I think that doing art is about seeing and showing. An artist needs to have the ability to see a complex object in such a way that you can break it down into its basic shapes, proportions and spaces. For example, being able to breakdown a car into rectangular prisms and cylinders. And then an artist needs to be able to take these basic shapes that they have seen and show them on the page.

I also think that it’s important for an artist to have a strong desire to keep learning, developing and improving. I want to be continually learning more about human anatomy, storytelling, colour, and so on.

Superman-sketch
Paul Hallam. ‘Superman Sketch’, 2016, 20x21cm, Graphite Pencil.
  • What role does the artist have in society?

I think the artist has many possible roles in society. The artist’s job can be to entertain, amuse, inspire, critique, instruct, to help others reflect, to show beauty and more.

  • What has been a seminal experience?

When I was in year 9 my friend gave me a copy of ‘How to draw comics the Marvel way’. This book changed the way I draw. It gave me all the basics that I needed. I still use the ideas and techniques today. I don’t know if I would have carried on with art in high school if not for that book. It equipped me and energised me for drawing. That period was a time of a huge leap in my art.

  • Explain what you do in 100 words

Generally, I start with a bunch of really small, rough sketches either on paper or on the computer. I then refine, adjust, combine and strengthen these initial sketches. Once the composition is sorted out, I will do a larger loose drawing, starting with stick figures and building up the shapes and forms. I usually then trace this either on a light box or on the computer to make a tighter drawing. Finally, this drawing is transferred onto Bristol board for inking and then I colour it in Photoshop. I try, throughout this process, to refine the image but I also strive to keep the energy of the first drawings. I don’t want my drawings to get too stiff.

  • How has your practice changed over time?

My practice has changed a lot over the years. I think I have gotten a bit looser with my drawing than I was maybe 10 years ago. It has also gotten more cartoony. A bit more bendy and exaggerated. I use computer programs more now as the software and hardware has improved and become more affordable.

Harry Potter
Paul Hallam. ‘Harry Potter’, 2015, 29.7x21cm, Pen & Ink and watercolour.
  • What art do you most identify with?

As I said before, I am a huge comic book fan. I really like the fact that comic stories can deal with deep and important themes as well as be entertaining. I can really identify with Spider-man. The main theme for his story is “With great power comes great responsibility”. He’s all about using his abilities for the sake of others, even when it costs him to do so. I like that moral rule. It’s something to aspire to. I also identify with Batman. Batman is a guy who sees criminals hurting people and getting away with it. He sees the inability and corruption of the police. So he does something about it. I think everyone can relate to that as they look around their community and the world.

In terms of artistic styles, I love bold, simple and graphic looking artwork. There is something very sophisticated about simplicity. I also love dynamic, exaggerated and cartoonish art. I can appreciate realism but it doesn’t really impact me as much as more stylised work.

  • What work do you most enjoying doing?

I did a book cover for a friend of mine last year. It was a parody of Star Wars called “Star Pizzas”. It was a fun project because I got to muck around with the designs of characters like ‘Darth Grater’, ‘Princess Lasagne Layers’ and other cheesy dad-joke characters.

Star-Pizzas-Cover
Paul Hallam. ‘Star Pizzas’, 2016, 13x17cm, Pen & Ink with Digital colours.
  • What themes do you pursue?

Pop culture, everyday life, I like using humour in my work. I want it to be bouncy and optimistic.

  • What’s your favourite art work?

I have always been drawn to the impressionist painters. I remember visiting the Art Gallery of NSW and being drawn to the works by Paul Cézzanne and Van Gogh. I think I like the vibrant colours, the textures and the energy of the Impressionists. When it comes to comic book art, I love the marvel comics style of the 60’s and 70’s. I have a print of the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-man) on my wall at home. It’s such an iconic image.

  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you

I remember one drawing was surprisingly inspired by a year 1 child at school. I was pinning up some artwork in the library. The class had been given the task of creating a monster and they all did a fantastic job. But one drawing stood out to me. It was a giant pink blob, with three eyes and it was standing on multiple long legs. The student said that it was based on a spider. I thought it was cool and a little cute. This inspired me to create my own version of this “Brain-Spider”. Mine was less cute, but hopefully a lot more creepy.

  • Why art?

Because art adds so much flavour to life.

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

I am extremely visual. I remember faces better than names, I usually notice what people are wearing, their hairstyles and their expressions. I also deconstruct the things that I see. It just happens automatically. I see something and I try and work out how to draw it.

  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

In 2014 I took a painting course at a community college. Acrylic painting has always scared me, so I decided to do a beginner’s course to demystify it a bit. I spent the term creating a self portrait where my face was made up of various superheroes. We held an exhibition at the end of the term and it was so exciting to see people looking at my work. Especially when kids were trying to list all the superheroes in my portrait.

Super Self Portrait
Paul Hallam. ‘Superhero Self portrait’, 2015, 29.7x42cm, Acrylics.
  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

I’m an introvert so I don’t mind being by myself. However, with family, friends and social media, it’s all pretty balanced I think.

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

I remember feeling slightly annoyed at the low view many artists or art teachers have to comic art. It’s frustrating because some of the artwork is amazing. I think it’s changing at a popular level. Superheroes are very popular at the moment. I have heard of art galleries doing exhibitions of comic artists and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney did a Lego DC superheroes exhibit.

  • What do you dislike about your work?

I find it frustrating when there is one small bit of a drawing that just doesn’t look right. Often I will be whittling away at it over and over again. Sometimes I don’t see it until the work is finished and then all I can see is the mistake.

  • What do you like about your work?

I have fun doing it so hopefully my work is fun and interesting for others too.

  • Should art be funded?

Yes, as other areas are also funded. Creative arts are an important part of our society and should be respected and encouraged to flourish.

  • What role does arts funding have?

I think it would be fantastic if there could be more funding for good artists to work in schools and universities, whether to do permanent teaching jobs or to be visiting lecturers. I can imagine how helpful that would be to high school and Uni students.

  • What research do you do?

It depends. Some sketches are just ideas that pop into my head. They are inspired by books I have been reading (fiction, biographies), movies, TV shows, current events and everyday family life. My sketch book is right next to my bed to grab those ideas before they slip away. Other artworks require more research. For example the ‘Coffee Snobs’ illustration I spent a week mind mapping, investigating coffee culture in Australia and brainstorming different possible ideas for the brief.

Coffee Snobs
Paul Hallam. ‘Coffee snobs’, 2015, 20x15cm, pen and ink with digital colours.
  • What is your dream project?

Wow that’s a good question. I would love to work on a children’s book. I have been playing around with some ideas for some books. Or something superhero related? Comic books are great but they do require a significant amount of work within a small amount of time.

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

Mike Wieringo, Skottie Young and Chris Bachalo. They are all American comic book artists who have styles that I enjoy. While I don’t think my art looks exactly like theirs, I do feel that they are some of my influences so I would love to be mentioned in the same breath as them.

Man-from-the-Moon-pg1
Paul Hallam. ‘The man from the moon I’, 2002, 21×29.7cm, Pen & ink with digital colours.
Man-from-the-Moon-pg2
Paul Hallam. ‘The man from the moon II’, 2002, 21×29.7cm, Pen & ink with digital colours.
  • Favourite or most inspirational place

I find inspiration in many places. I love looking through art books, lots of ideas come from hanging out with my kids or watching our dog chase our cat around the house. I have also found hanging out at the shops or the gym to be inspirational. You can see some interesting looking people doing strange and interesting things that make for good cartoon characters or stories.

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Keep drawing all the time. Keep drawing the same thing over and over again until it becomes deeply ingrained.

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

Even though I have been doing art for a long time, I have only been taking it more seriously over the last year and a half. Really I am just at the beginning of my professional life. I am looking forward to finishing off my studies this year, which will update and build on my previous learning. So my goal this year is to learn everything I need to be a creative, effective and efficient graphic designer/illustrator.

  • What wouldn’t you do without?

I’m a Christian so I would never want to be without Jesus. And also my relationships with my family.

blame-it-on-the-rain
Paul Hallam. ‘Blame it on the rain’, 2015, 24x27cm, Pen & Ink and Watercolour.

To reach Paul or to see more of his work follow these links:

Website

Facebook Page

Tumblr

Twitter

Linked In Profile

Artist Interview: Petra Kakakios


When I first ‘met’ Petra during our art studies last year she was only 18 years old yet the artwork that she has produced would have you believe that she is much older, and convinces me that she is a prodigy. Petra excels at art, music and Taekwondo. What a joy it has been to see this extraordinary young artist flourish with well deserved accolades in recent exhibitions. When you read Petra’s words below you too will be struck by what an exceptional young person (and artist) she is. This is a link to Petra’s Facebook Artist Page, and to her Youtube Channel.

petra1
Petra Kakakios
  • Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist and an athlete in the Olympic Sport of Taekwondo. My Art and Taekwondo compliment and balance each other and are equally important to me. So, researching material, connecting themes, then drawing, painting, composing music, writing poetry, photographing ideas, and training in my sport, drive my purpose and empower me to be the best I can be.

  • Why do you do what you do?

I create art because I see it as my calling in life. It is my mission, my thing. It is what I can do! It is an extension of myself.

  • How do you work?

I am very perceptive and observant of what is happening in the world around me. I often have a strong visual idea from that insight and then reflect on how I can translate this most effectively. I may begin sculpting my subject and setting, then photographing it. This is the Performance Art aspect of what I do. I then make sketches, draw and/or paint it. As I am painting, I am able to hear its voice and during this process may compose music to accompany, or be part of the artwork.

(WARNING: viewers may find the images below disturbing)

petra2
Photography and Make up 2015
petra3
Graphite Drawing, 2015, 29.7 x 42 cm
petra4
“Untitled” 2015, acrylic paint on canvas, 45 x 60 cm
  • What’s your background?

I am 19 years old and the second eldest of eleven children in my family. (I am the eldest girl, though 😉 I live in rural South-East Queensland on 180 acres of mountainous land. I have lived in Sydney at interim periods of my life and I can’t wait to move to a vibrant city in the near future!! I have been home educated since age 5, completing Year 12 in 2013 and home trained in Taekwondo. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, Fine Art online.

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Being true to oneself – not deviating or distracting from who you are. Learning and challenging your assumptions is essential to the work of an artist. Creating original artworks derived from the heart.

  • What role does the artist have in society?

A true artist has a very significant role in society. Not only does an artist bring forth his/her intentions, perspectives, and perceptions of life, but in doing so, creates the opportunity to touch the lives of others. The artist prompts the public to respond, creating dialogue, whether it be internal or external, silent or expressed. As an artist, I think the role is to help the public learn more about themselves as individuals and as a society, culturally, socially, historically and personally.

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“Goodbye Sweet Hat” 2015, Acrylic paint on canvas, 45 x60 cm
  • What has been a seminal experience?

When I was eleven years old, I vividly remember how excited I was when I heard the news that my Mum was going to have a baby. There was a mystical feeling about this new life coming into the world which affected mine. I was going to be there, and have someone new to love and help take care of. My Mum miscarried that child quite late, which was the first of a few. During this time, it seemed the disappointment was unbearable. I think that experiencing this loss was a defining point in my life. I began composing music, writing poetry and painting to express the sadness I felt about the real loss of children whom were supposed to be part of my life, and uncanny as it may sound, their absence has made them present, still here somehow. Now I am compelled to create art with gaps and silences, with something missing, so that what is not there, is noticeable and present.

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  • Explain what you do in 100 words

I tend to experience phenomena very profoundly and create what I feel about a particular subject. Music and art are my way of expressing these associated feelings. I compose music and create to the feeling generated or vice versa. Life stories, the everyday, tragedy and loss particularly influence me and I am compelled to visually translate this. As the artist, I want to force people to look deeper, to see what is really happening. And because I become, or take on the role of who and what I am creating, I am often trapped in the theme.

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“Knock out the Glass People! It isn’t Beautiful!” 2015, Graphite powder and gouache paint on paper, 59.4 x 84.1 cm
  • How has your practice changed over time?

My style is continually changing. I think my whole outlook on art has changed over the years too. I have branched out from only painting in acrylic, to drawing with graphite, to using different mediums and techniques, employing photography and film, composing and adding music to my art – to being completely unlimited in what I use to best translate my perceptions. I have transformed from being timid in my artwork, meekly introducing my ideas, to now, confidently shocking the viewer into realisation.

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“Black Rose” 2014, Mixed Media on Canvas, 60 x 50 cm
  • What art do you most identify with?

I identify with hyper-realism and magic realism in art.

Hyper-realism and magic realism create an intangible form that is rather abstract and cannot be painted. The two forms create a magical sentiment that is ‘unreal’ in realism, unseen in the seen and present in the absent.

  • What work do you most enjoy doing?

I really can’t choose what I enjoy the most. Photography, drawing, painting etc is all a part of the performance. Each stage has a purpose in the creative process and I enjoy each one as it comes about naturally.

  • What themes do you pursue?

The fundamental theme of my art is sweet childhood. The components that course through this theme are: suffering, the forms of abuse, the slave trade, crime, war and these are juxtaposed subtly alongside historical and political events. Innocence and vulnerability are evident and simultaneously hidden. The way I highlight the naivety of my subject is by inserting a fantasy element. In the ugliness of the reality, there is an underlying beauty in the imagination.

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“Harmony of Hooves” 2014, Graphite and Gouache paint on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm
  • What’s your favourite art work?

I think one of my favourite artworks would be my own painting, “anima al finé”. It is the only piece of art I have created that has truly connected with me, my purpose and the audience.

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“anima al finé” 2014, Acrylic paint on canvas, 60 x 60 cm
  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you

When I was 14 years old I entered my first acrylic painting of a wolf, “Call of the Wild” in a Write4Fun Art Competition in 2011 and came second out of 6,000 entries. I was inspired by the winner’s realistic drawing and I began experimenting with other materials, techniques and styles.

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“Call of the Wild” 2011, Acrylic paint on canvas, 30 x 40 cm
  • Why art?

Art allows me to express outwardly what I experience internally.

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

Being able to see more completely. Not just taking a quick glance but really beholding.

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“The Way We Were” 2015, 29.7 x 42 cm
  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I have witnessed people standing back, in front of my artwork, utterly absorbed by it. The most memorable responses are optimistic.

  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

I think there is a marked difference between lonely and being alone. I am not lonely because I am surrounded and supported by my family, yet I am alone in my endeavour. Any vocation that requires extensive periods of time alone, like an author or an artist, I think you have to recognise the prospective loneliness. To counteract this possibility, I intend to experience campus life, where I am receiving more constructive feedback and critical analysis from others.

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

I dislike the results orientated mannerism that is encouraged – it misleads artists from their purpose. I don’t like how there are political undertones for attaining recognition as an artist.

  • What do you dislike about your work?

What I don’t like is how restricted or limited I am with materials and financial ability. The challenge is to find a way irrespective and that is part of being an artist. However, I feel I haven’t been able to reach my full potential at this point in my career.

  • What do you like about your work?

I like that I can see how much more I can do. This is exciting for me.

  • Should art be funded?

I think there should be requisites to funding and I would like to see funding go through the right pathways for it to be accessible to the right people.

  • What role does arts funding have?

I think it would have a massive role in society. At this point I am only understand the significance of funding at a local level and would like to see artists, youth workshops and events funded.

  • What research do you do?

I research images and articles and different media sources on tragedy, war, genocide, anti-Semitism, religion, terrorism, and specifically integrate child victims. I like to investigate historical, cultural and contemporary events. Painting and material techniques are also a part of my research and depending on what I want to create, I can discover the best processes.

  • What is your dream project?

My dream is to design and build the most unique art gallery in the world and have my work exhibited! I’d like to travel the world photographing/filming people and events and coming back to my studio to continue the creative process! My dream is to touch and change the world through my art!

I have a Taekwondo dream to become World and Olympic Champion.

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

I really don’t like to compare myself to other artists. But I will state the artists that I most admire.

Gottfried Helnwein, Chiharu Shiota and Kathe Kollwitz. I especially relate to Gottfried Helnwein’s subjects, art forms, notions and perceptions.

  • Favourite or most inspirational place

I find inspiration everywhere as all my ideas are influenced by what happens in the everyday.

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Do what you think about!

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

To be exhibiting my work on a global scale.

  • What wouldn’t you do without?

Living!

Artist Interview: ‘Joti’ (Julie Taschke)


Joti. “Objects of Obsession” 2009 Water soluble oil on canvas 30 x 60 cm x 2 panels
Joti. “Objects of Obsession” 2009 Water soluble oil on canvas 30 x 60 cm x 2 panels
  • Who are you and what do you do?

Hi, my name is “j0ti” (Julie Taschke). I am an artist, wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunty and art is what I do. 

  • Why do you do what you do?

I do my art for pleasure, as a release for my Bi-polar tensions, most of all because I can. 

  • How do you work?

Usually I work intensely, have to finish what I begin in a day, but sometimes I like to plan and take my time, changing my plans as I go. 

  • What’s your background?

I grew up in the middle of six children in a loving family in North Queensland. We had a lot of spare time on our hands, as many hands make light work, so drawing and story writing became some of my favourite pastimes. Childcare was my main working background. 

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Imagination, freedom, communication and a desire to create is integral to the work of an artist. 

  • What role does the artist have in society?

An artist role is to share some new insight of their surrounding and imagination for viewers to participate in, appreciate, love, hate, communicate about, and invoke emotions. 

  • What has been a seminal experience?

I guess being hung in Parliament House, Brisbane, as part of a group show, not once but twice made a big difference to the way I viewed my art.

  • Explain what you do in 100 words.

I used to get an idea and just go to my paper or canvas and paint, draw, create. I have learnt from others that sometimes it is best to sketch and plan what I do. Now I use either method, depending on what I am creating. I like my work to be spontaneous. Water soluble oils are a favourite and I am partial to using pastels, charcoal and ink but in recent months I have ventured into the world of glass and clay. I am now teaching art at a community centre near me and find it so rewarding to be able to share my knowledge with others who are interesting in listening and learning. 

Joti. Bi-polar 2015 Glass
Joti. Bi-polar 2015 Glass
  • How has your practice changed over time?

I began my art practice as a way to cope with trauma; I now use my art practice to share my feelings, insights and way of viewing the world through mental difference. 

  • What art do you most identify with?

Surrealism seems to be the style that intrigues me the most. 

  • What work do you most enjoying doing?

I really enjoy ink and charcoal, but any medium is good. Miniature works are the best for me but I am up for any size work really. I enjoy creating new life in old familiar objects. 

  • What themes do you pursue?

I usually pick a theme that suits my mood. If working towards a group exhibition then I go with the group theme otherwise I just pick a word and see what happens.

  • What’s your favourite art work?

I am yet to pin just one artwork down as my favourite. 

  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you

A real life experience in my art world was to walk through the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museum in Rome and to stand in a room with some of my favourite paintings by Salvador Dali, Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Chagall and Gaugin in London. These experiences have inspired me to create more freely and to realize that my meagre contributions to the world of art are different again from anything that I have encountered in these wonderful galleries. 

Joti. “Logan” 2002 Acrylic on canvas 40 x 40 cm
Joti. “Logan” 2002
Acrylic on canvas 40 x 40 cm
  • Why art?

I was not really into sport or school at the time I became interested in art. Art could take me anywhere and I could work on it anytime, even when at family functions, or in the car and it kept me calm when nothing else did. 

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

Looking at the world from a different perspective, not just the role you are given, but the one you create for yourself. 

  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I have had a young lady sit in the gallery room, where my painting was hung in our group exhibition, and start singing the song that I had painted the music for within my painting. 

  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

Artistic life can be lonely as you spend so much time within yourself. I share myself with others who are like minded, assisting in teaching others with intellectual difference and I volunteer with people who have Dementia in an Art appreciation group. 

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

It seems to be very clicky where I am, if you do not keep in with the “in” group you really have to fight to get noticed. 

  • What do you dislike about your work?

Each piece of work has its own character and sometimes the work just does not sit well with what I had set out to achieve. It does not deter me, if I do not like it I set it aside and come back with new eyes in a couple of days and adjust the character. 

  • What do you like about your work?

I like that my work is so different from most of the other artists that I exhibit with. It inspires conversation about the meaning of my work. 

Joti. “Together” 2009 Acrylic on canvas. 30 x 40 cm.
Joti. “Together” 2009
Acrylic on canvas. 30 x 40 cm.
  • What research do you do?

I research ideas I have for artworks, mainly to see if what I am thinking of has not already been done before. I also research topics that grab my interest such as dementia, autism, food sensitivities, mental illness and of course art styles. 

  • What is your dream project?

At this stage in my art practice this would have to be to hold my first solo exhibition before the end of this year. 

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

Salvador Dali, Picasso and Pro Hart. 

  • Favourite or most inspirational place

I have been to some very inspirational places as I mentioned earlier, but my favourite place to create is at home, under my gum tree. 

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Trust in myself, live life like there is no tomorrow, express what I feel so others may feel it too. 

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

I would like to finish my Bachelor of Arts: Fine Arts degree, with some psychology and dementia studies included then work helping others (teens) who need to express their inner turmoil so they can live with an artist outlook on life. 

  • What wouldn’t you do without?

I would not do without me, myself and I and the freedom to express my inner most feelings in my art. This is what I think makes my life and art different.

Joti. “Mystic” 2002 (shown in 2006) Acrylic and pastel on canvas. 60 x 60 cm
Joti. “Mystic” 2002 (shown in 2006) Acrylic and pastel on canvas.
60 x 60 cm

 

WP Daily Prompt: The Stat Connection

Artist Interview: Tracey Fletcher King


Australian artist Tracey Fletcher King is one of my top favourite contemporary artists. I simply adore her unique style of art. Tracey is a wonderful teacher whose enthusiasm and love for artistic expression instills confidence and pride in the work of her students. I could easily wax lyrical about how her work continues to inspire me, year in and year out;   instead here is Tracey to speak for herself in the interview below the demonstration video. I have no doubt that you too will fall in love with her work.

  • Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist, and illustrator and a teacher. I work for a lot of companies producing illustrations of their products for them to use online and for marketing which is creatively challenging and a great way of keeping my eye in and my skills strong. I keeps sketchbooks which I draw in constantly, paint for myself and my own enjoyment, as well as to create prints to sell online, and work with an interior designer painting large scale abstract acrylic paintings which I love creating because they are the opposite of everything else I do. Plus there is online teaching. My life is one big creative ride

  • Why do you do what you do?

Because I can’t imagine doing anything else. It is never boring, I get challenged constantly and I get to change between different creative modes… it is kind of perfect so why mess with it.

  • How do you work?

I try, but usually fail to work in a very organised manner. I work long hours and have a lot of balls in the air so I tend to work on illustration in the mornings and painting and abstracts in the afternoon. I always warm up with a sketch or two, and often end the day the same way. Some days it works, but others I work all day on one thing or another. My big goal for 2016 is to take two days a week off from work. Not quite achieving that at the moment, but I am certainly getting better organised.

Tracey Fletcher King. My Week, Sept 2015, Watercolour and ink, 210mm x 297mm
Tracey Fletcher King. My Week, Sept 2015, Watercolour and ink, 210mm x 297mm
  • What’s your background?

I was an art teacher after leaving university. I taught in secondary and primary school environments before taking a break and traveling and living overseas over a period of 9 years. In that time I rediscovered painting and sketching for the love of it. I came home full time and went back to uni again and did a Masters in art education, majoring in creativity theory and ran a small art school. I then got into botanical art as a way to get my skills back and rediscovered the joy of keeping a sketchbook, and it has all gone on from there.

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

To work… I hear a lot of people complain they can’t think of things to paint or draw etc, but to me it doesn’t matter what you draw or work on just work… You will produce lots of rubbish work, but you will produce some gems as well. I do know that you won’t produce anything great unless you are actually giving it a go. Plus a “bad” painting or drawing can lead to many many new and interesting things to explore. The only way you can guarantee you won’t create anything you feel is of value is to be not working, so just bloody jump in and cram in as much work as you can.

  • What role does the artist have in society?

I think the artist has the role of being a recorder of the life of the artist. The sights, the emotions, the experiences… it is all about exploring a world visually. We are so good at talking about things, or reading about them, but we need to also explore visually, and with the rise of a technological based world and the increase in manipulation of images using photoshop and things. I think that artists bring an authenticity to the visual world.

  • What has been a seminal experience?

Having cancer and going through a year of heavy treatment. It changed everything for me on every level. It allowed me to be more fearless and open post treatment, and to not sweat any of the small stuff.

  • Explain what you do in 100 words

Look, see, draw, paint, create, explore, make, splash, film, edit, photograph, share, research, improvise and teach

  • How has your practice change over time

It has changed radically over the years. Some things stay the same in terms of techniques and materials, but mostly I tend to not plan or try to control the path of things, and so it goes where it goes. I adapt as opportunities come my way and see what happens. Sounds a bit airy fairy but for me control is the worst thing. Trying to force things is like a hammer to my creativity so I tend to just see what is coming up next and go with that. It has opened up so many more opportunities and made my work a lot more exciting and fun.

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Tracey Fletcher King. Crushing it, 2015. Watercolour and ink. 210mmx 297 mm
  • What art do you most identify with?

I love art with strong colour and great lines. I like artists like Cressida Campbell who manage to infuse the ordinary with a kind of magical atmosphere. Her lines and use of colour are so perfect they make me feel a bit giddy when I look at them. But I love strong colours like Matisse and the clear blues of Brett Whitely and the atmospheric landscapes of William Robinson. There are so many artists and styles of art that I am drawn to from contemporary work by people like Tracey Emin through to some of the contemporary Australian artist like Tracey Moffatt, through to more traditional depictions… I could write pages on this question alone so I might just leave it there.

  • What work do you most enjoying doing?

I like being able to mix it up between the illustrative style of work and large scale work. I enjoy the abstracts, but I have started creating large canvases of close ups of floral blooms, and things I love like perfume bottles and am very inspired by that direction at the moment.

  • What themes do you pursue?

I like art as a record of my life and the world around me. I am not into big themes so much as recording my world and interests visually. That is what interests and inspires me.

  • What’s your favourite art work?

I couldn’t choose… that is like a Sophie’s Choice type question for me… how could I choose without upsetting other ones…

  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

Real life inspires me every day. I try to find inspiration in the objects and items around me and it is endlessly inspiring once you give yourself permission to examine the mundane as subjects. I love that my morning cuppa can inspire me to pick up a pen and brush. That is what it is all about I think.

Tracey Fletcher King. Minis. 2015. Watercolour, ink and gouache. 150mm x 220 mm
Tracey Fletcher King. Minis. 2015. Watercolour, ink and gouache. 150mm x 220 mm
  • Why art?

There are other things in life???… Other ways to express yourself??? Who knew… Can’t imagine anything would do as good a job as art

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

An artistic outlook to me means that you look for opportunities to find the visually interesting parts of your world. That you look to be inspired and express yourself.

  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The most memorable are often the negative… people belittling what you do, dismissing it as feminine and not dealing with big themes… things like that. Or people being surprised that you created something… the good old… you did that??? You? Really? Never would have picked that… I have taught myself to  loooove those comments because it reinforces that I am pushing myself , that I am not leading the expected life and that I am being true to me.

  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

I quite like the alone ness of it… I don’t feel lonely and quite like hiding in the studio and creating, but I find it hard not to have people around me who can understand the process and the trials of creating. For that I have some good friends both in real life and online who I chat with regularly and skype with. Being able to chat to a fellow creative on the other side of the world and show them what I am working on and discussing it in real time is one of the great joys of the time we live in I think.

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

I hate the elitist attitudes, the misogyny and the crap that goes along with so much of it. No time for that rubbish and posturing.

  • What do you dislike about your work?

Not much to tell you the truth. I try to not judge or reflect on the actual work too much as I think it is counterproductive… I wish I was more organised I think… but overall despite it sounding a tad arrogant. I kind of like what I do.

  • What do you like about your work?

I like that my work reflects me and that it tells the story of my life visually and reflects my interests and personality. I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer a few years ago and the prognosis was pretty dire, and I found it was comforting to think that my work was there as a record that I had been here if that makes sense. I can look back and trace things I have seen, done and experienced through going through my sketchbooks or leafing through my work. I love that journey being there.

Tracey Fletcher King. Bottle, 2015, Ballpoint pen, 150mm x 220 mm
Tracey Fletcher King. Bottle, 2015, Ballpoint pen, 150mm x 220 mm
  • Should art be funded?

I find this one a tough one. On one hand I feel that it should be, and hate the amount of funding that goes to bloody sport. But then I worry that all the funding will go to niche areas. I would like to see the arts better funded in schools so that we can get ‘em young and expose as many young people to art as possible. That way they will hopefully grow up to be participants and interact with art later in life.

  • What role does arts funding have?

I think that the role is to allow people to create art and to disseminate the ideas of art and to be good advocates. I think in the visual arts we are very poor advocates for the value and role that art plays in all of our lives, so funding directed not just to exhibiting artists, but to training people to be better at advocating for the arts would be useful.

  • What research to you do?

I am a voracious reader of all things art related, and love reading biographies of artists, and people in the creative arts in general. I have a huge collection of art books, and also books on things like urban sketching and graphic novels as I find them endlessly inspiring. I tend to research for inspiration… though I still read the latest on areas like creativity theory thanks to my post graduate study. It is endlessly fascinating to me.

  • What is your dream project?

It isn’t something I worry about. I figure I am living my artistic dreams so all is pretty good. Having said that I am building and filming online classes I will be teaching in coming months and it is pretty cool to be able to plan and create a course not having to consider syllabi and rubbish like that. Teaching without external constraints is pretty cool.

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

Comparison is like a disease… I just don’t do it, and don’t even want to think about this one.

  • Favourite or most inspirational place

My studio. I get to surround myself with work by people I love, objects that inspire me or are meaningful to me, and I get to leaf back through sketchbooks and things. Doesn’t get much better than that I don’t think.

Tracey Fletcher King. Teaspoon Header, Dec 2014, Watercolour, acrylic paint, gouache, ephemera, and ink, 180mm x 420mm
Tracey Fletcher King. Teaspoon Header, Dec 2014, Watercolour, acrylic paint, gouache, ephemera, and ink, 180mm x 420mm
  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t edit your ideas. If you want to draw or paint something then don’t get in and place a value judgement as to whether it will be worthy or interesting enough, just paint the bloody thing. If it is an idea then it is worth pursuing even if you end up discarding it down the track, just don’t throw it out before you have explored it.

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

I am living it. To set up the classroom where I can run classes that I would like, and to keep working in the varied artistic fields I work in. Just keep doing it …

  • What wouldn’t you do without?

Art.

To follow Tracey’s work or to sign up for one of her classes please follow the links below.

Tracey’s website and newsletter sign up, art blogPinterestInstagram Facebook: Personal ProfileBusiness page

Artist Interview: Stephen Tiernan


It is my great pleasure to introduce readers to Australian portrait artist, Stephen Tiernan. His portraits are beautifully rendered with expressive brushstrokes and exquisite palettes; however, Tiernan goes beyond that. He successfully manages to capture the emotions of his models, breathing an extraordinary life-like quality into his portraits, giving us  – the viewer – a deeper insight into his subjects. These are more than beautiful faces on canvas, these are real people with real emotions that speak to us from Tiernan’s easel. What follows is an interview with the artist as we learn more about his process and practice, his philosophy and dreams.

Who are you and what do you do?

For my day job I am a Detective Senior Sergeant in the Queensland Police Service. I have been a police officer for 26 years with the majority of my service in plain clothes. I have worked in regional detective offices as well as specific taskforces and squads including organised crime taskforces and the Homicide Squad. Once I leave the office though I don my artist hat and paint. I get inspiration from all I see. I like to paint the human face or figure and never get tired of this genre.

Why do you do what you do?

I paint and draw as I have a constant burning desire to create. I have had this since my school days and all through school I was encouraged by my teachers to become an artist or work in a related field. I disregarded all of their advice and joined the army. After 4 years in the army I joined the police.

How do you work?

When I paint or draw I tend to work very fast and in an expressionist style however I am finding that as my technique improves I am having to slow myself down. I love working from life when doing portraits or figurative work however this is not always possible so I use photographs as reference material.

What’s your background?

I was born in Scotland and moved to Australia with my family when I was 2. I am a married man who recently turned 47 years old. My wife and I have 5 children (4 boys and a girl). I started to concentrate in my art late in life so I am making up for lost ground and spend all my free time making art. I have wonderful support from my wife who also works full time as a lawyer.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Passion, desire and an inspiration to create are integral but I also believe support is necessary.

What role does the artist have in society?

The role of an artist in society is crucial. When we look back in history it is the artist and the artworks of society that are remembered and treasured.

What has been a seminal experience?

The birth of my children and the desire to paint and capture them in a unique and special way that only art can do.

Stephen Tiernan 'Looking for Identity' 2015 - oil on linen 50.9cm X 61cm (20"X 24")
Stephen Tiernan ‘Looking for Identity’ 2015 – oil on linen 50.9cm X 61cm (20″X 24″)

Explain what you do in 100 words

I am always thinking of ideas for my artwork so I carry a journal and either write them down in that or make notes in my phone. Once I have an idea I will start doing some preparatory drawings to see what the results look like. I will then look for material and if necessary take photographs. When I commence one of my paintings I will initially use the photograph as a reference to lay down the proportions. Once I start I will put the photo away and develop the painting that way and allow the painting to guide me.

How has your practice change over time

I am yet to have developed what I would call a ‘signature style’ however I see improvement in my work all of the time. I would say the biggest change in my practice is I am working a lot slower and methodical. The statement attributed to Degas, “Painting is easy when you don’t know how but very hard when you do” is certainly coming true in my case.

What art do you most identify with?

All forms of painting. I love expressionist artworks. I love to see how others interpret and translate what they see. I have great admiration for the artist that can produce a hyper realist image but it is the expressionist works that make my heart beat faster.

What work do you most enjoying doing?

I never tire of doing portraiture. When I paint a portrait it is like I am removing a mask and I am seeing something for the first time. Those little micro expressions we experience whenever we communicate with someone can say so much and I like to somehow try and capture that.

What themes do you pursue?

As I used to box both in the amateurs and as a professional I love to paint these images and try create that atmosphere of battle. To depict the grace and beauty of the human form in peek physical condition.

What’s your favourite art work?

I have too many favourite artworks of other artists however in relation to my work I painted a portrait of my daughter in oils and I was experimenting with different techniques to create various textures and I caught something that was her so I left the painting as it was and now it hangs on my bedroom wall.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

My family life has inspired me the most and the strong desire I have to continue to improve and reward the faith and support they continue to give me in pursuing my art career.

Why art?

I takes me to another place. I see good in the world when I create rather than the dysfunction and chaos I witness in my ‘dayjob’.

What is an artistic outlook on life?

To see the beauty in all around you. Being able to notice colours and form when before these things were invisible to you.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

The amazement and shock people display when they find out you are an artist and the work they are viewing is yours.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

I can imagine the life of a full-time artist is lonely however as my life is very busy the quiet period when I get to create art become a sanctuary.

What do you dislike about the art world?

The lack of real opportunity for struggling and talented artists.

What do you dislike about your work?

I have pieces of work I have created that I dislike as they have not turned out the way I wanted but I do not have any specific area about my work that I dislike.

What do you like about your work?

The fact that I was able to create it from a thought and turn it into something tangible.

Stephen Tiernan 'After the Fight' 2015 - oil on canvas 50cm X 77cm (19.6" X 30.3")
Stephen Tiernan ‘After the Fight’ 2015 – oil on canvas 50cm X 77cm (19.6″ X 30.3″)

Should art be funded?

Absolutely. The benefits are immense.

What role does arts funding have?

Community arts programs should take priority in a lot of areas to encourage engagement throughout the population. Artist residencies throughout government environments and major corporations. Surround society in creativity and watch it grow and develop.

What research to you do?

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Art so I do a lot of artist research.

What is your dream project?

I would love to put together a body of work for an exhibition that tours around Australia and overseas.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

Malcolm Liepke, Michael Carson and Lucian Freud

Favourite or most inspirational place

Home here on the Gold Coast

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

You can sleep with a black eye but you cannot sleep with a resentment. Do not take things personally.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

To be a full-time artist

What wouldn’t you do without?

My wife and kids.

Stephen Tiernan. ‘Queenslander’ 2015 – oil on canvas 60cm X 60cm (24″ X 24″)

To see more of Stephen Tiernan’s wonderful art be sure to visit his Facebook Page.

This blog post also addresses the WP Daily Blog’s topic of the day: Quote Me

Artist Interview: Andrea Lumsden


I have been following Andrea Lumsden’s work for some time now and am frequently amazed at what she creates from everyday materials. She excels in an art form that persuades transformation.  It seems there is no challenge too big for this talented artist, particularly with regard to material investigations. She boldly seduces the sublime to rise from the mundane in her fascinating works. It is my great pleasure to introduce readers to this inspiring Australian artist in the interview below. If you enjoy Lumsden’s work and would like to see more please offer your support by ‘liking’ her Facebook Artist Page and/or following her blog.

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no. 1 (Little Bowl Project), 2015, Cardboard, acrylic paint 4.5cm (height) x 10.5cm (diameter)
  • Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Andrea Lumsden. I have a degree in Fine Art. I am currently in process with a year long body of work called “The magic in the medium: hidden beauty”. This relates to material investigations carried out by me to inspire and motivate the viewer into seeing the versatility of, and the beauty within materials that are so often overlooked.

  • Why do you do what you do?

Hmmm…I would say that I just have an inner drive towards what I do.   I guess I want to create a magical experience; to show that there are always new possibilities and new ways of looking at things and that if we take a different view and try to see something in a new way, then that’s when the magic happens.  However, I do think that I started investigating materials in the beginning because I wanted to find my creative niche and even now after doing it for a while; I have found that I really do prefer certain materials to others for their possibilities and their versatility.

  • How do you work?

My studio, at this point in time, is in a fairly large garage.  I just love creating in there.  At this stage I investigate a certain material for approximately 4 days to start with to gain a kind of intimacy with it.  I also share the investigation on my blog to start with.  Further investigation happens later when I create a little bowl with the results from the initial investigation to demonstrate how it all comes together.  I work a lot through intuitive flow…ahhh…from one idea to the next.  I just keep moving with the ideas until they come to a stop or until I get tired and realise I’ve been sitting there for three hours and my butt is hurting lol.  I do love being in the flow.  I work best alone or with the cat “Boof”.  He likes to accompany me and soak up creative vibes as long as I don’t start talking to him.  If I try to hold a conversation; he gets up and moves as far away from me as possible. Haha.

  • What’s your background?

I think I was quite lucky as a child in primary school.  My teacher’s wife was an artist, so we were introduced to a whole array of art subjects like pottery, enamelling, puppet making, sketching, bark painting, Batik and oil painting.  During high school, I was directed towards computers etc and really didn’t get back into art until 5 years ago and by that stage I was so frustrated with my skill level that I wanted to learn so much more and here I am today with my degree and still a frustrated artist lol.

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

A good work area is very important, having good equipment and materials at hand to work with, being able to network with other artists, I think is very important and also to keep learning and most of all continual practice whilst being open to mistakes.  Mistakes are invaluable.  Mistakes create beautiful art and amazing breakthroughs.

  • What role does the artist have in society?

Again I think this is up to the individual.  I can only speak for myself in this instance and my role, I believe is to introduce a new way of looking at life to society; to offer a different perspective.

  • What has been a seminal experience?

My brother dying just over a year ago has changed my path quite a lot.  I keep wanting to be as authentically me as possible.  I needed to start doing what I loved and to stop doing what I felt was expected of me.  So my work has turned more towards, I suppose you could call it a type of decorative art.  I have always loved to decorate; to make things a little more special and a little more magical by adding embellishments and finding the magic or the beauty within something….so yeah.

  • Explain what you do in 100 words

Lol, just like I’m back at uni again..um I’ll just give you my artist statement which is quite short and sweet but pretty much to the point.

 I have a love of material investigation.   I try to find/ create a relationship with the material; to become intimate with its possibilities.   I am particularly interested in demonstrating the versatility of certain media that I choose to investigate, by displaying my findings in simple finished forms such as an art bowl or a type of jewel/embellishment.

When working with a material, there is a respect or reverence for the whole process; including the material itself that seems to develop the more I choose to experiment with it.   I have found that most things can be fascinating and quite magical, if I set my mind to looking for the beauty within.  It is that hidden beauty that I am focusing on in my body of work for 2016.   How can I create for others to see; a magical experience showing the versatility of the material?  This is the question that I am choosing to answer through my body of work “The magic in the medium: hidden beauty”.

  • How has your practice changed over time?

I have become so much more focused and now know the direction that I wish to take.  I am also now allowing for changes in my art to just naturally occur with the flow and whatever direction it takes but the basis is always to investigate and to experiment.  The last four years gaining my degree, I found the pace was just a little too fast for me, so I guess now I have slowed down and allowed what I have learned to kind of sink in and gel with me.  I look at what I have learned as base skills that I can push further into my own way of doing things.  I’m really just at the beginning.  There is so much more to come.

no. 8 (the little bowl project), 2015 hessian, ink 6cm (height) x 12.5cm (diameter)
no. 8 (the little bowl project), 2015 hessian, ink 6cm (height) x 12.5cm (diameter)
  • Why art?

Art is my life; my life is my art.  Without art, I would not be a whole person.  There would be a huge hole in my life.

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

The quest is to see things differently, not just the whole picture, but the details that are missed; to document how you see things, as an individual.

  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I was described as an outsider artist by one of my tutors.  I guess I take that as a compliment.  I have had a few strong reactions towards some older works about my agoraphobia experience.  Their responses showed me that I was expressing myself how I needed to.  I would like to do some more work on my identity but it’s one of those things that can bring up a lot of emotion and in your face stuff and issues with narcissism.

  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

With my experience agoraphobia, I actually learned to like my own company; or was forced to learn as I had no choice at the time lol.  I love working by myself which is a good thing because being an artist, you spend a lot of time in the studio by yourself.   I rarely feel lonely.  These days I have Facebook to keep me company if I want to know that people are around or just to chat with someone about art.  We are very lucky that we have that in our lives.  Some people like to listen to music whilst they do art.  I like to watch movies.  Movies are good company and great idea fodder. ☺

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

I think there is a kind of rushed feeling about art today.  I know I am forever trying to calm the feeling down and pace myself.  We all don’t need to be in some huge competition with one another.  I think that everyone has something different to offer the world and there is room for everybody.

  • What do you dislike about your work?

Not having enough supplies to do what I want and having to wait to get them.  This makes me very impatient.  Patience is not one of my strong points…..taps fingers.  I also dislike when I’m wanting to get moving but my body gives me a hard time.

  • What do you like about your work?

I love the act of creating something tactile that I can pick up and hold, run my fingers over.  I’m very ‘of the senses’.  I love seeing something that was just an idea, brought into the material.

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Signature tags (2015)
  • What research do you do?

I spend a lot of time looking for visual cues and seeing how other people use the materials that I am investigating.  I also get ideas from movies and from nature and also from designers and artists that I’m interested in.

  • What is your dream project?

I am doing it now.  I am sure there will be more dream projects as I get plenty of ideas, but at this time I am very happy with what I am doing.

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

I don’t necessarily want to be compared to another artist although Joseph Cornell was quite an influence for me and many others, but also I particularly liked Dieter Roth for his work with documentation, Candy Jernigan for her interesting collecting of found objects and documenting those.  I am also spending time researching into the Faberge’ eggs.

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Investigating in studio (2015)
  • Favourite or most inspirational place

My studio and my shower ☺

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To look at nay sayers as challengers to motivate me further towards my goals.

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

To be a highly respected, happy and well paid full time artist who is continuously developing her skills and moving forward in her chosen field.

  • What wouldn’t you do without?

My scissors and my big bottle of PVA glue , my laptop, coloured inks, my art journals, my printer and my camera…oh …and coffee.

If you’re as inspired as I am to see more of Andrea’s process pop on over to her Facebook Page: Andrea Lumsden – Art & Design and her blog: The magic in the medium

Questions sourced from Artsculture

This blog post also addresses the WP Daily Blog’s prompt for the day: Quote Me

Artist Interview: Gaye Tait


One of the my greatest pleasures since starting my studies in Fine Art has been to connect with other artists. Gaye Tait from Australia is one such artist whose work leaves me breathless and wanting more. Her style, while fresh and playful with a satisfying Klimt-like familiarity, is strong and timeless. Her subject – Mother and Child – resonates universally and through her art Tait teaches us how to cherish the most sacred (and often misunderstood) amongst us. Enjoy getting to know Gaye through the interview below and if you like what she offers please support her by ‘liking’ her Facebook Page – The Tait Gallery.

Gaye Tait, Madonna and Child
Gaye Tait, 2014. Mother and Child. Acrylic on canvas. 60 x 60 cm
  • Who are you and what do you do?

Gaye Tait.  Artist and student, Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother

  • Why do you do what you do?

Art:  Because it feeds my soul. If I am not creating I feel lost and lonely. I think about art continuously and how I can achieve the desired outcome.

  • How do you work?

I try to stick to a plan organising my time.  I prefer to work alone as I become so lost in the moment that I would not be able to work and be social at the same time.

  • What’s your background?

Some of my earliest memories are of drawing and creating beginning when I was about 4 years old.  Becoming a wife and mother in my teens limited my creativity and then as a single mother working became a priority.

I started painting again in my 30s having small successes in the country town where I lived.  Again, work became more involved and there was never enough time for art.

When I retired I then had the time to pursue my love of art. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Art at Curtin Uni WA.  I have been studying part time for the past 4 years with 2 more years to go before graduating.

Living in Bundaberg I became very involved in the local art scene.  I have entered several group exhibitions in Bundaberg and one solo one. I also exhibited in Brisbane for the ‘Celebration of the female form’ exhibit in 2014.  Recently I moved to Bribie Island and entered an exhibition competition at Aspire Gallery in Paddington, Brisbane and was delighted to be a dual first prize winner.  The art gallery gave me the opportunity to show my work for 6 months which was wonderful. I am currently applying for two more exhibitions at Aspire and I have been accepted to exhibit my work in June in Brisbane for ‘Celebration of the female form’.

  • What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Research, workshops, a place to work and make a mess and like minded social group.

  • What role does the artist have in society?

Artists’ role is to express their feelings and emotions as well comment on what is happening in our world.

  • What has been a seminal experience?

Research has helped me identify where I am heading in my art work.  After 4 years of study I am only now seeing what I don’t want to do with my ideas and concepts and also having the courage to head in the direction that appeals to me regardless of the risks.

  • Explain what you do in 100 words

What a tough question!  I am finding that I am developing work from my own experiences.  I married when I was 17 and had my first child two days short of my 18 birthday.  By the time I was 21 I had three very small children and a husband who couldn’t cope.  Divorcing at 22 left me alone and bewildered.  Those were tough years that only in hindsight do I realise what a struggle it was. To cut a long story short I find myself painting images of a mother and child a lot.

I remember other people’s attitude to me back then as a young mum and how alone I felt.  Now in my art work my aim is to show young mums lovingly caring for their babies. Young mums having fun enjoying the gift they have.

Just because a woman is young and inexperienced doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want the best for her child. My art reflects the fun side of having a young mum. It shows the warmth and love that these young women have in abundance. I guess in my small way I am trying to change people’s attitude hopefully making the viewer think about their own responses to young, single mothers.  

Gaye Tait, Mother and Child
Gaye Tait, 2013. Madonna and Child. Mixed media on stretched canvas. 40 x 30 cm.
  • How has your practice changed over time?

It has changed in how I approach my work in as much that I am more thoughtful about what I am painting and why.

  • What art do you most identify with?

So many artists that move me I am not sure where to start.  I adore Gustav Klimt’s work as well van Gogh.  Of course the old Masters for their skill and dedication but am amazed at the work of many contemporary artists. 

  • What work do you most enjoying doing?

Painting women and children.

  • What themes do you pursue?

As above.

  • What’s your favourite art work?

Anything by Gustav Klimt and Marc Chagall

  • Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

My own experience as told above.

  • Why art?

It is the only way that I can truly express myself.

  • What is an artistic outlook on life?

Seeing the beauty and the ugliness in the world.  Looking beyond the obvious and finding what is beneath.  Noticing the shadows, the darkness and the light. Being open to new ideas and change.

  • What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Winning shared first prize at Aspire Gallery in Paddington, Brisbane.  One of my works chosen by Dalgety Australia as part of travelling outback exhibition.

  • Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

It does involve isolation at times but for me never lonely.  I do make sure that I involve myself socially although to be honest there are times I would rather lock myself away in my studio.

  • What do you dislike about the art world?

Not a lot. I guess there can be pretence and arrogance by some artists.  Some artists who put other people’s work down but on the whole I find the art world quite a welcoming place.

  • What do you dislike about your work?

Everything! I am never really happy and see lots of mistakes.

  • What do you like about your work?

I like the idea and the involvement. I become the work and it becomes me.

  • Should art be funded?

Definitely!

  • What role does arts funding have?

To encourage and fund emerging artists.  To fund training, workshops.  To bring art from other countries to Australia to broaden our minds and ideas.

  • What research do you do?

Not a lot re funding but huge amount regarding artists and techniques.

  • What is your dream project?

I am living my dream.  Happy with the exhibitions that I have been involved in and the ones that I am planning for the future.  

  • Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

Klimt, Klimt and Klimt and of Chagall.

  • Favourite or most inspirational place

Ocean or country where I can just sit and look.

  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Relax and let it happen.

  • Professionally, what’s your goal?

To exhibit and sell my work.  I would also like to teach children and the elderly.

  • What wouldn’t you do without?

My camera.

Gaye Tait, Title Unknown
Gaye Tait, 2015. Safe In My Tiger Suit. Acrylic on canvas. 70 x 100 cm.

For more work from Gaye Tait join her Facebook Artist Page, The Tait Gallery.

Questions sourced from Artsculture

This blog post also addresses the WP Daily Blog’s prompt for the day: Quote Me