Artists Profile with painter Amanda Adam
Amanda Adam is a Scottish painter, printmaker and draughtswoman. Born in Dunfermline, she now resides in Crossford, Fife and is currently undertaking her Masters in Fine Art and Humanities at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) in Dundee. The artist studied drawing, painting and printmaking at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh, before going on to complete her BA Degree at DJCAD. Here, we ask Amanda about her processes as an artist, her inspirations and thoughts on the role of art in society.
What kind of art do you produce and how/ when did you start to get involved in making work?
I am predominantly a painter. My practice is based on landscape, our responses to place and how we function spatially within it. Recently my work has started to come off the wall, taking a more sculptural form. When I started painting at the Leith School of Art, I felt if I could specialise in painting I could expand into any other medium. However, I always come back to painting as it is my passion, the area in which I lose myself.
What was the first work of art you remember seeing?
I don’t remember the first work of art I ever saw but I cried the first time I saw a small Van Gogh paining, a portrait of Alexander Reid in The Kelvingrove art Gallery and Museum, in Glasgow. The sitter was an art dealer who built up a collection of French 19th Century paintings which now reside in Glasgow Art Gallery. Van Gogh and Reid shared lodgings in Paris at the time when the portrait was painted 1887. I just felt really humbled and in awe.
What medium do you normally work in, and why?
I work with canvas using a traditional oil paint/ linseed oil/ dammar varnish mix. However I have recently started working in gouache as well. Oil paint does what I need it to do, running, spreading, dripping. I can layer, scratch and cut into it easily.
Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work?
Moving forward I would like to work with stone and ceramics, but in the more immediate future probably photography, film and sound.
What subject matters are you normally drawn towards?
While humans are absent from my landscape-based work, a presence of the viewer suggests itself, making it understood that the terrain is not ‘empty’, but rather filled with the same elements that sustain all life. The chaotic myriad of colours is derived from intangible feelings to which I subconsciously respond; it is that ‘spirit’ of place contrasted with the punctuated presence of line. Lines provide structure to our lives; within the work it is the contours of the land contrasted with man made objects, which offers stability and dynamism. The paintings become installations and sculptures on the very land that I paint, creating their own sets of lines and movements.
If from a traditional art background (i.e. higher education in art) how do you think the institutions you were associated with have formed/ informed your practice?
There are advantages and disadvantages to higher education within art. If you are unsure about your work you can very easily be pushed or swayed into making work which you are uncomfortable with or which you don’t feel is your own natural response. You can feel confined and if you spend too many years in ‘the system’ you can also get too comfortable. The advantages are that you have so many opportunities to practice so many areas of material exploration, through workshops, tutorials and artist’s talks all at your finger tips. Plus a formal art education can open other doors for you in the way of scholarships and awards etc. if that’s what interests you. It has definitely helped me to hone my ideas, allowing me to recognise the subject matter which drives my practice.
Who are your inspirations in the art world?
Those who work with sincerity, intensity and passion, no matter what their subject matter or medium; artists whose work comes from the heart.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am influenced by everything around me, every journey I make in a car, a bus, a train, as the land races past me - I find that very exciting. Walking in the landscape, just being, sitting, feeling, being at one within it. I like to go to remote places. Residencies are great as they allow you the time in one place to really ‘feel’ your surroundings. The Bothy Project in Scotland and the Clipperton Project are two residencies which I have taken up recently, but there are so many available.
What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?
My MFA studio is a small office space where I make water based works and more experimental pieces. It’s really a place where I do a lot of small work, make applications, etc. My home-based studio is the top floor of a golf Club, based in a small castle-type building. The scenery, the golf course is beautiful and serene. From the windows I look from Fife right over to the Lothians. But actually my studio is really out on the land where I make site-specific work.
What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?
Trust your instinct, collect, experiment, ignore your anxieties and be prepared to feel all emotions at the same time whilst making work.
What do you think is the importance of art in society?
Art has been part of man since the dawn of time. It allows us to dream dreams and our souls to dance. Art is life-enhancing, entertaining and defines our personal and national identities, and is the ultimate freedom in expression.