Artist Q&A

To help publicise the Big Heart Auction 2016 I was asked to complete an Artist Q&A. As it may not be published in its complete form anywhere else, I am offering my answers here in one, nice and tidy, post ;) 

I don’t promise my answers will be the same tomorrow or next year, but for now, here’s an inside look at what I do, why I do it, how I do it and what inspires me when the skies are grey. 

How/why did you become an artist?

I love making something out of nothing, especially works that invite wonder and a sense of possibility.

When I started painting on glass my artistic confidence suddenly blossomed, I had found the medium that perfectly matched what I wanted to paint - giving me a visual language to express my imagination.

Why have you chosen to donate this particular work?

I am a parent carer as well as an artist and I chose "Cottage by the Sea" because I rely on my imaginary landscapes to replenish my spirit on difficult days. Here the cottage is filled with love - something perfectly in tune with the work of The Chestnut Tree.

Describe your style of work?

My artwork is naive in its simplicity, lack of formal perspective and because it comes straight from my heart without academic art filters. I take great comfort in spirals and love painting detailed gardens that can bloom throughout the year.

Working in the reverse technique, I begin by signing my name backwards. I then paint in the fine detail (stars, flowers and spiral suns) and allow them to dry before adding in the next background layer. This means that until the final layer of background has been added, even I don't know what the final painting will look like.

Where do you most enjoy creating your art or being creative?

Because I paint in oils on glass I am most at home in my own studio. It is doubly cozy because one wall holds my book collection (mostly fiction, art and travel books) and another wall is close hung with art by my children and artists who are important to me.

Even if I'm not painting I love to sit in my studio, looking out the French doors into the garden and watching the traffic pass by. I have made it my comfy space, doubling as art studio and therapy space when I need to take a break from caring, parenting or just want to ignore the dishes in the sink.

Do you have a favourite colour? What mood does it put you in?

My favourite paint colours are white, orange and yellow as they are so gorgeous to work with on the glass. My 'real' favourite colour is purple, in all its various shades - which I love pairing with greens and reds for contrast. Purple oil paints tend to be terrible for detail work on glass though (they're too transparent) so I use it mostly for backgrounds.

What couldn't you do without?

Warmth! I can not paint if I am cold so on cold days I supplement the central heating with several candles  - unscented though or I start to feel queasy. I also like a bit of good quality chocolate with my afternoon tea and I can get quite grumpy if I've run out.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

Most of my paintings take several months from start to finish (some take years!) - but I only know what they will really look like once the final background layer is on and I can turn it around to see it from the front. At that point there's nothing I can do to change it.

Seeing the finished work from the front for the first time is both nerve wracking (what if I don't like it?) and completely euphoric (did I really do that?). I will often have forgotten early details so it truly is like meeting the idea for the first time. It can take me several days to get used to it and even longer before I can walk past it without stopping to stare. 

Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

I am inspired everyday by those who work with special needs kids and are willing to open themselves up to the joy and heartbreak that invariably comes with the territory. My son has Autism and I learn so much from the parents I know as we swap our experiences. I am also very inspired by women of every era who balance family life with their passion (in art, in science, in everything) - often against hidden prejudices and always with less time than they want for either. 

What art do you most identify with?

I started painting on glass after being introduced to Croatian Naive art while living in Zagreb. The self taught, primitive style that dominates their tradition really freed me to express myself and the artists I met made me feel a part of their family. While my art looks different, my working practice is firmly grounded in this tradition - making me the artist I am in every way.

Name 3 artists you admire?

Artists from the Croatian Naive working today:

Ivica Fišter, Katarina Krvarić, and Željko Seleš 

Female artists who are better known:

Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keefe

For colours, lines and imagination:

Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, René Magritte, Wassily Kandinsky and 

(definitely not least!) Dr. Seuss for his playfulness and originality.

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