‘I’m an experimenter, I use anything and everything to get the marks and the textures that I want.’
Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?
Negative really, I don’t remember ever feeling that I was good at art, or being told that I was. My schools were very into super realistic drawing, and I found that boring…still do. I was in the dunce class for art, I didn’t realise that I could draw until I was 31!
What would your school report have said about your art…?
That it was produced very slowly! Oh, and I failed Art A level….
Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?
I did an Employment Training course in Stained Glass when I was about 19. I then went on to do a foundation course in art. It was very Fine Art focussed which didn’t suit me at all. I took a break to have my first son, and ran a Stained Glass Business in Suffolk. I went on to get a BA in Graphic Design/Illustration, a second son, and an MA in Sequential Design/Illustration. I graduated from the University of Brighton in 2009.
What or who has inspired you over the years?
I have had some wonderful teachers, Sue Aldworth and Rob Mason at Norwich Art School Margaret Huber at the University of Brighton. All of whom encouraged me to develop my own personality in my art work.
In terms of subject matter…the sea, light on skin, the way light falls, the magic hour, texture, colour, words.
What Artists do you admire?
Barbara Hepworth, her drawings not her sculpture. Frank Auerbach, but his drawings, I actually hate his paintings! Jim Dine, Carravagio, Georges de la Tour, Joseph Wright of Derby, Egon Schiele, John Piper, Sigmar Polke the list is endless, but the things they have in common are chiaroscuro and texture.
What is your favourite piece of work? (yours and someone else’s).
Mine…um….I don’t have a favourite, some of them are ok, I’m quite hard to please!
Barbara Hepworth, any of her hospital drawings.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far, what are you proud to have achieved?
I sold two paintings in a weekend at a Northbrook College student show. It was important for me because it was the first time I had put a monetary value on work that meant something to me. The fact that it sold, and quickly, made me begin to see my work in a different way.
What have you sacrificed for your art?
Nothing really, money maybe? It’s what I want to be doing and there is no sacrifice in pleasing yourself.
What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?
‘It’s only a picture’ that was from Paul Slater. When you’re immersed, a piece of work and it’s success or failure can seem so important…..but it isn’t, not really, you have to learn to move on.
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?
Study History of Art. It will give you a sense of your place in the art world, and be endlessly inspiring. Trust in what you are doing, never mind what’s fashionable and never mind what other people say.
How do you start a piece of work?
Depends what it is, if it’s glass I’ll start by drawing thumbnails in a sketch book, and enlarge the ones I like, that way they keep their energy. For a painting I’ll start with acrylic on board, sketch out the text, then prime it, oil bar goes on top. Before that I will probably have taken a picture, I often see things out and about that I want to make into images.
When is it finished?
‘There is no finishing of work, only the abandoning of it’ Paul Valery said that and it’s kind of true. It’s finished when there are no more useful marks to make…or when it’s tea time….or when it’s not working….or when the bloody paint has dried too fast! There is not a decisive moment of ‘finished’.
Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?
‘There is no creative success without creative failure’ I think that’s from ‘The Artists Way’ by Julia Cameron. It reminds me that each piece of work is a footstep in a journey, it’s that old chestnut about learning more from mistakes than the things you get right.
Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?
Walking helps with creativity, I get some of my best ideas while doing something else, I have loads of sketchbooks so I can write them down. I like to listen to music while I’m working, mainly because I like to sing along! I’m not sure it helps…although perhaps it clears my mind. I make mix CDs of my favourites, things like Spector and The Maccabees.
What is your favourite medium to work with/in…?
Oil bar…it’s very forgiving. I am generally a ‘taker offer’ rather than a ‘putter onner’ of a medium and Oil Bar lets me make a fluid scraperboard, if I make a mistake I smudge it and no one is any the wiser. I’m an experimenter, I use anything and everything to get the marks and the textures that I want.
Do you have a lucky or favourite something that you use that has been with you forever..?
I have a favourite pair of pliers, and I do like a nice mechanical pencil.
Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for….?
I am striving to make a living from something that means something to me, something that might contribute to the general sum of human happiness…do you think I’m asking too much?
Is there anything you avoid with your art..?
The middle distance. Not on purpose, but I often have one image with no background, for me it’s as if the Renaissance never happened….(see what I mean about the study of art?)
Thankyou for talking to us today, Naomi, it’s been a pleasure!