What are the major themes in your work?
I draw influence from the mark-making techniques of the Abstract Expressionist Movement, Gestural and Action Painting, the subject of contemporary painters and the concepts of Meta Art. I am also interested in exploring structures of identity through art, and the potential for paintings to act as a “mirror” and a place of reflection for the viewer. I have progressed and developed this interest through my studies of and qualification in Art Therapy.
How did you first get interested in your medium, and what draws you to it specifically?
I come from a creative family and have been making art since childhood. My Arts education was fostered by my mother, and various passionate art teachers. I have memories of making clay sculptures with my first art teacher in her studio when I was 5 years old. I followed this passion through my education studying Art and Art History through school and University. A Major in Art History supported my understanding that art determines cultural place and attitude. I particularly enjoyed studying Modern and Contemporary Art Theory.
I am drawn to the age-old medium of painting. There is history in paint and the medium is fundamental to Art. I find working with paint to be primal, visceral, intimate, honest and filled with potential for expression and observation.
How has your style and practice changed over the years?
My arts education was traditional, broad and structured. I understood that to abstract form, you have to know form. I see a parallel with my focus on medium: you need to have an intimate understanding of your mediums in order to utilise their properties and potential.
My dedication to gestural abstraction started when I was 26. Prior to that my work was figurative but I became increasingly disinterested in expressing my own narratives and more focused on composition, medium, texture, and experimental processing. My art making involves the innate processes of the media. I facilitate and collaborate with the medium.
Also contributing to the way I have evolved as an artist is my self-confidence and how I feel about my practice.
For decades I classified myself as an Abstract Expressionist, but my interest in the nature of paint itself – as expressed by my process driven style – has directed me toward a Meta Artistic Practice. Meta in terms of art meaning self-referential. In my case a painter, painting with paint, about paint. It’s interesting how one’s interpretation of art changes over time.
A walk through your art process: Do you just jump in?
I choose the scale of the work first, then the palate. I anticipate composition but allow change continuously, and let the paint guide me. My process is intuitive and instinctive mostly.
I naturally am visually intrigued and notice colour, shadow, texture and depth in the environment around me. It is normal for me to process this type of information. I engage with my art practice in the same way, with a fascination for these shifting aesthetics. Each mark or gesture I make is intentional, but not precious. My interest is in the process of creating and destroying the image through pools and layers of paint.
My sense of composition, balance and palate have influence on each work. I spend time considering where, how, what and when to act in applying mediums. There is a play between anticipating outcomes based on years of experimentation and the organic surprises my dynamic process often reveals. I find this an exciting aspect within my art making practice.
Tell us about your education in both Art History and Art Therapy; and does it influence your practice?
My training in Art Therapy explained academically what I knew about the transformational effect of the creative process. When we make art, we shift from the left brain, which includes logical and learned thinking, into the right brain, moving our mental energy away from the frontal lobe and more into areas of intuition, creative problem solving, inspiration, ideas and the subconscious. This accesses a new plane of understanding. The same applies when viewing or contemplating art.
Does inspiration or discipline keep you productive? And how do you know when an artwork is finished?
My desire to paint and my style of painting is spontaneous and organic, so mostly I paint when I feel inspired. I have intentions but I do not know exactly what the body of work will look like finished. The nature of commissioned work however is a relative and collaborative process, to which I apply a more structured approach.
Some of the processes in my work require patience, however at other times quite the opposite is the case, as I am pressured to work while the media are wet, reactive and pliable. This is a critical part of my process and when I must be present and uninterrupted. At times I am working with liters of wet paint, mixing and combining chemical solutions which react to one another at varying intensities and speeds. Some techniques require time for the paint to rest between applications. Thick, pooled areas can take months to cure. Time, self-reliance and knowledge of the medium are of the essence.
The time spent on a canvas depends on the style, medium and scale. Production time involves multiple factors such as process, artistic resolution and drying times. It is a stop start process with intervals for layering these inter-related aspects. I usually work on several pieces at a time, all at various stages of completion. Some works may be ready to leave the studio in weeks and others much take longer, if they ever leave. I need to approve of the work. To me painting is a dialogue, I know that the painting is finished when the discussion ends and I feel satisfied.