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Profile on Artists

  • Artist Profile: Ginny Elston

    Artist Profile on DJCAD Masters of Fine Art Graduate

    This month's Artist Profile is with Ginny Elston, who's studying for her Masters in Fine Art and Humanities at DJCAD and works part-time at iartsupplies - say hello next time you're in! Originally from Edinburgh, she studied History of Art and French at the University of Manchester, and then studied Fine Art at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh for 3 years. Ginny tells us a little more about her practice and thoughts on art in the following interview...

    SneakyPeaky_Richtone(HDR)

    What was the first work of art you remember seeing?

    My family moved to Spain for 3 years when I was a child, and so I was fortunate enough to go to the Prado Museum, which then was home to Picasso’s Guernica. I must have been about 6 years old, and I can just remember standing aghast in front of it. It was the horse which seemed to particularly horrify me, with what looked like a bullet or bomb in its mouth. I just remember being so confused and feeling dreadfully scared by it.

     

    What kind of art do you produce and how/ when did you start to get involved with this?

    I feel I produce many different types of art. My tastes and interests frequently change and I feel this is reflected in my changing methods of working. I took art as a subject all the way through school and loved it. It was always the most complex, surprising and interesting of subjects… with the most peculiar teachers.

     

    20160808_121628_Richtone(HDR)What medium do you normally work in, and why?

    I work in different media depending on what I’m doing. I’d describe myself predominantly as a draughtswoman, a painter and a printmaker.

     

    Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work? 

    I’ve started exploding out from the confines of my paintings into the surrounding space, by painting on the walls and introducing objects into the surrounding space. So I guess I’ve taken a few steps into the realm of sculpture and installation, which I’m finding new and exciting at the moment. I always love trying out new printing methods – I’ve never done lithography and I’d love to have a go at that.

     

    What subject matters are you normally drawn towards?

    Since my tastes are often in a state of flux, I find myself drawn to many different things at once. I’m very interested in history, language and sites of particular human interest, as well as both Eastern and Western philosophies and scientific associations with art. I’ve made previous works about the planets and our solar system, about the Nuremberg Trials that happened in Germany after the Second World War and about arcade and gaming spaces… so quite an eclectic bunch of topics!

     

    If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?

    I’m not associated with a Gallery or art collective.

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    If from traditional art background (i.e. higher education in art) how do you think the institutions you were associated with have formed/ informed your practice?

    I think the institutions one studies in are always formative to your practice, whether they end up affirming your current beliefs on art or whether you end up rebelling against the institutional grain. Being in an intensive, educational environment which pushes you and challenges you enables you to critically question and reflect upon your own work and that of your peers, which is mostly always a good thing. However this can sometimes overwhelm you and often undermine your confidence in your own work, and you need to be aware of when you increasingly rely on the advice of those in the position of ‘teacher/ tutor’ to know what steps to take next. Everything in moderation.

     

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

    There are many, many, many inspirational people in the art world. They range from past and current tutors, peers, and both celebrated and non-celebrated artists, living and dead. Specifically at the moment I find the sculptural works of Jessica Stockholder, Judy Pfaff and Katherina Grosse very inspiring, and the paintings of Tomory Dodge, David Schnell and Tonye Moe very exciting. Artists like Marina Abramovich and Ai Wei Wei are also incredibly inspirational, calling for an awakening of the collective consciousness.

     

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

    I’m currently finding a whole world of visual inspiration from just the colours and shapes in my immediate environment. Buildings, windows, the colour of the sky and trees in different lights, hi-vis jackets, bright window displays…

     

    What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?20160726_145112_Richtone(HDR)

    I’m lucky to be working in a very bright and spacious studio that will eventually turn into my Masters exhibition space.

     

    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?

    Art can bring up a surprising array of emotions. It's a deep, mystical and sometimes murky journey to travel through... But it’s also clearly the best way to spend your time here on planet Earth.

     

    What do you think is the importance of art in society?

    At its best, art is of the utmost importance to society, it’s life-changing, eternally profound. Imagination is a most basic necessity which we need in order to survive.

     

    You can see Ginny's work alongside other Masters students at the DJCAD Masters Show 2016, which runs from 20th August - 28th August, 10am - 4pm weekends and 10am - 8pm weekdays, with the opening night on Friday 19th August from 6pm - 9pm.

  • Artist's Profile: Amanda Adam

    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.

    AmandaInstal

     

    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.Van Gogh

    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.

    Amanda

     

    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.

     

    Amanda1

     

    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.

  • Artist's Profile: Nicola Blakemore

    This month’s Artist Profile is Nicola Blakemore

    Originally trained as a graphic artist, Nicola has had a varied career working in public relations, the media and the travel industry. She returned to her artistic roots, becoming involved in interior design, specialised painting techniques and mural work both at home in the UK and internationally. Now living in the Languedoc region of Southern France, Nicola’s work has featured in Country Living magazine, BBC Radio 4 and Central TV. We’re going to hear from Nicola about how she works in the following interview.

    Nicola

    What kind of art do you produce and how/ when did you start to get involved with this?

     Personally I love painting still lifes, but I also paint commissions, and have produced portraits, people, pets and houses. I create murals and also teach at college level, with students with special needs and with private groups on painting holidays.

    What medium do you normally work in, and why?

    I work in all media but I’m exploring more with the potential of watercolour, which is what I’m teaching at the moment.

    Art education background (if any):

    A-level art at school.

    Gallery/ Professional Affiliations (if any):

    I have exhibited in both the UK and France.

    Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work?

    I want to get back into oils. I’m also going to use the new Cobra range, which are water-based oil paints. My friend Libby Page loves them.

    What subject matters are you normally drawn towards?

    I’m a big fan of colour, so anything colourful which can evoke a mood or a feeling.

    Nicola3

     

    If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?

    I am not affiliated to any galleries or collectives at the moment.

    If from other type of background (i.e. no formal art education) what were the reasons for not pursuing this route and how do you feel this has influenced your art?

    I am a self taught artist.

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

    I love the vivid colours used by Shirley Trevena and many of the great masters and the Dutch still life painters.

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

    Anywhere and everywhere!

    What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?

    A spare room.

    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?

    Just do it. Give yourself permission to ‘play’ and don’t have too high expectations. You can find a friendly group or even learn via the internet, which is where I do some teaching. There is a saying that you should ‘know what you are good at and stick to it.’ I say, ‘discover what you might be even better at and go for it.’

    Nicola2

  • Artists Profile: Angel Perdomo

    This month's artist's profile is with Angel Perdomo

    Originally from the Canary Islands of Spain but currently living and working in Poland.  A mainly self-taught artist, Angel produces beautiful, if sometimes disturbing portraiture and figurative work which explores states of mind and being.  We asked him to talk a bit about himself and his background.

    angel1

    When did you first get involved with art?

    Ever since I can remember I have always drawn and painted.  These activities were always something natural and necessary for me from a young age.  At the same time I have grown as a person and this is reflected in my growth as an artist.

    How would you describe your work?

    I would define it as figurative poetic art, combining experimental concepts with a strong fantastic character through which I create images with open meanings.

    Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work? 

    In my painting I usually use a mixed technique on wood. I begin by laying down a layer of acrylic to obtain different textures and at the same time begin to block in something of the basic colour scheme.  Next, on top of this acrylic base, I carry out the more complex work with oil paint.

    In my drawing work I used mixed media on paper.  I use many different techniques, depending on the result I am trying to achieve.

    If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?

     I currently don’t have a fixed affiliation with any of these type of spaces.  At the moment I am looking to establish just this type of connection on a permanent basis, either in the Poland where I am currently resident or abroad.

    If from traditional art background (i.e. higher education in art) how do you think the institutions you were associated with have formed/ informed your practice?

     The closest thing to a formal art education which I have undertaken was my time at the Escuela de Arte Feranado Estevez de Tenerife, where I took my certificate in art, and la Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Granada where I took the Ciclo Superior in Illustration.  Despite this I consider that my true artistic formation in self-taught.

     If from other type of background (i.e. no formal art education) what were the reasons for not pursuing this route and how do you feel this has influenced your art?

     My art education has been mainly self- taught. I have learnt techniques and artistic language through practice and experimentation.  I believe that personal, individual practice is essential for the development of an independent artistic personality even if and when this is accompanied by traditional academic training.

     angel2

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

     I am inspired by all artists who use the human form, but who are not realists, but who instead work in reinterpretation.  Above all I am inspired by those artists who are independent and work outside of established fashions and movements.  For example Francisco de Goya, Edvard Munch, Oskar Kokoschka or Francis Bacon.

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

     The inspiration behind my work comes from different emotional states, unconscious thoughts and anthropology.

     What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?

     I work in a space which is both my home and my studio.

    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?

     I would advise them to be deeply passionate about what they do, to the point of being capable and willing to make all the sacrifices which an artistic life involves.  I would also advise that they develop a critical stance in relation to their own work, in order to be able to continually improve.

    What do you think is the importance of art to society?

     I believe that art and culture in general are two of the defining characteristics of the human race.  As a consequence, to deny the importance of art is to deny our own humanity.  For this reason, art should be far more present and visible in society than it currently is.

    Culture should be something which we prize, because culture helps in the development and growth of all people, which in its turn helps to improve society in general.

    angel3

    If you would like to see more of Angel's work or contact the artist you can follow him on facebook  on his website angelperdomo.com or contact him directly through his email, perdomo_art@hotmail.com.

  • Gerard Quenum:  Valley of the Dolls

     

    Last year I was visiting the National Museum of Scotland on a day out in Edinburgh when I came up against one of Gerard Quenum’s sculptures for the first time.  I find that art produces several different types of positive effect in me if I like it.  Sometimes it’s a technical appreciation, sometimes it’s a sense of connection with what the artist is representing or trying to say.  And sometimes there is something deeper, something where the visual elements of a piece of work combine to create messages, messages which touch our own visual memories which are connected to experience. These are the pieces of work which you can never forget, which can even come to superimpose themselves over your own emotional memories as a kind of synthesis of all the things which that piece connects for you.

     

     

    gerard-quenum-s-l-ange L'Ange

    For me straight away the sculpture brought vividly memories of my childhood home Nairobi and the city’s copious rubbish dumps, bits of coloured plastic, broken toys, and mangy dogs, but also of the many traditional tribal dolls which as a backdrop were ever present images when I was growing up in one way or another.

    L’Ange is a towering wooden structure ( a reclaimed upended drum) with one of Quenum’s trademarks, a dolls head, blackened and damaged.  The piece if also unique in that the eyes of the doll are actually made out of a wasp’s nest, which happened by chance in Quenum’s studio whilst he was creating the piece.  (You can read about the conservation efforts in relation to this aspect in an interesting article here: http://blog.nms.ac.uk/2013/08/12/for-your-eyes-only-repairing-gerard-quenums-lange/)

    I remember staring up at this piece and feeling the sensation of fire burning, charring the wood and the plastic, and knowing that this was a piece of art and an artist that I was not going to forget in a hurry.

    Quenum was born in 1971 in Porto Novo, Benin and is part of a movement of francophone African artists now starting to receive international recognition for their work.   Quenum’s work has risen from a form of street art springing out of Porto Novo and Cotonou where spontaneous exhibitions are organised in the city streets.  This “Boulev’art” (Art on the Boulevard) is beginning to gain international popularity and Quenum now has a considerable list of joint and solo exhibitions on the national scene under his belt.  As well as exhibiting in Benin and other African countries such as Senegal and Togo Quenum has also exhibited in London, France and Brazil.

    It isn’t hard to see why Quenum’s work has enjoyed some success.  Whether you love it or hate it there is no denying that these altered dolls are both striking and memorable.  I suppose on some level it saddens me that the first reaction people seem to have to the pieces is “that’s weird” or “freaky” or some such thing.  Whilst it is obvious that these pieces are meant to have some unsettling effect, it is a shame to see so many people dismiss the work as an attention grabbing gimmick when there is so much behind this work.

     

    la-vendangeuse(1) La Vendangeuse (The Reaper)

     

     

    Quenum’s work is produced almost exclusively using reclaimed and repurposed materials, most notably wood and bits of old dolls.  The dolls, almost always originally white baby dolls, then undergo a transformation process, usually using fire to blacken their skin and to frizz up their hair. These alien baby dolls, given to African children, are being transformed into something which resembles to a greater extent these children.  They are also being transformed into something which many times resembles traditional African dolls or masks, whilst always at the same time retaining something incongruous.  It is this incongruity which makes people uncomfortable but it is also what makes Quenum’s work so hauntingly beautiful.  There is a disturbing lost innocence about these reworked dolls, something which makes them both comforting and potentially terrifying.  I suppose another thing that they brought immediately to my mind were child soldiers, innocent faces, scarred and marked by the histories of war torn countries.  Can innocence exist where situations of extreme exploitation of the human being exist?  La Vendangeuse (The Reaper) above perfectly illustrates this for me.  The doll here is joined by another familiar childhood figure for Europeans, a stuffed Disney Tigger toy, but it is totally out of place.  The elongated hooded figure reminds me of the many nomadic herds people who are so common a view in many African countries, and the children who are so often occupied with looking after their livestock, carrying their blankets around with them to sleep with the animals.  However there is a darker side to this, The Reaper, is also death. The face of innocence in conjunction with the concept of the Grim Reaper calls to mind again for me child soldiers, agents of death hiding behind unexpected guises.

     

    Quenum’s work is well worth a look at and if you happen to be travelling through Edinburgh go and see the real thing.  At the least its something totally different, at the most it might be a new obsession.

     

     

     

    Fiona MacHugh

  • Artist's Profile: Libby Page

    Libby Page

    Our latest Artist’s Profile for our readers is with Libby Page.  Born in Bath in England Libby is currently resident in Narbonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France.  Libby has a BA in Fine Art specializing in sculpture from what was the Wimbledon School of Art (now Wimbledon College of Art).   Libby currently has professional affiliations with galleries Inspiré in Azille, Southern France ( https://www.facebook.com/InspireAzille/) and Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne, Southern France (http://www.vuesurcours.com).  She has also exhibited in Lyon and the UK but works mainly with private clients.

    WEBconsequence

    What kind of art do you produce and how/ when did you start to get involved with this?

    Moving to the south of France nearly ten years ago revived the passion for colour that I’ve had since I was a child. As I travelled within the region I found myself asking how I would mix up the colour of this cloudless blue sky, the riotous autumn vineyards, the bright spring poppies or the distant mountains.

    Finally it was the Canal du Midi with it’s beautiful tree-lined banks that pushed me to take these colour-filled musings and try attempt to pay homage to the splendour that was all around me. The Canal, as we know it today, is coming to the end of one glorious chapter as it’s majestic plane trees are being felled due to disease.

    WEBPouvoir

    So, not only was I stirred by the Mediterranean colours and the trees whose architectural forms resonated with the sculptor within me, but now I also had a deadline; these trees are coming down fast, each year the canal-scape changes. It is still very beautiful as new vistas are now opening up which were once hidden, but it is changed.

    So at first glance it seems apparent that I am a landscape painter, but there is also a hidden message within the work. Each colour has a meaning of my own invention. So as I paint, I am telling a story or remembering a moment. It is a way of writing in code, my secret diary.

    More here: http://libbypage.eu/coded-messages

    WEBStill Standing

    Is there any kind of medium/ art techniques that you would like to explore in your future work? 

     Used to working with traditional oil paints, I am now making the switch to Cobra, water mixable oil paints. The transition has been easier than I thought because the most important thing for me is colour and they are so good. One of the best sap greens I have ever used! I’m a fan of translucent paint and they match up to their traditional counterparts 100%. The difference has been one of texture. Oil paints have a sumptuous fluidity which is less evident in the Cobra paints. However, a little medium, (or a little water!) soon fixes that.

    WEBGracious

    If affiliated to Gallery/ art collective/ art club, how did you get involved with this?

     

    The relationship with Inspiré in Azille started when a friend of a friend told me about them. I met the owner, Angela Saunders, four years ago and liked both her and her vision for the gallery from the start. She is a pioneer of fine art in a region that is mostly devoted to the more natural pleasures that the land has to offer, namely wine!

    I have only recently been approached by Vue Sur Cours, Narbonne. The owner, Claude Tassus-Bauléry has seen my work evolving over the last few years and wanted me to be a part of her portfolio when she opened her new space in the centre of Narbonne. Very exciting!

     

    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?

     I think my most formal lessons were learnt before my higher education started. The fundamentals of colour mixing I learnt at school and the disciplines of constant observation and a disciplined drawing practice I learnt during my one year foundation course. My higher education taught me how to talk about my practice and how to understand what I am doing now in the context of art history and the wider contemporary scene. After that, a job working in an art gallery gave me a glimpse into seeing things from the other side; a comprehension of what people like to buy and also the confidence that it is possible to survive as an artist. However, we learn every day and from every experience. You can be a great artist with no formal training at all.

     

    Who are your inspirations in the art world?

     In chronological order of influence in my life, a condensed list looks something like this;

    Andrew Fraser, Errol Le Cain, Otto Dix, David Elgey, Paul Cezanne, André Derain,    Francis Bacon, Simon Müller, Barbara Hepworth, Yoko Ono, Edmund de Waal, Ronald F Smith, David M Martin, Domonic Hills, David Hockney, Peter Doig.

     

    Where do you get your inspiration from?

     Externally, the Canal du Midi and the light of Southern France. Internally, my faith, my questions, my observations and reactions.

     

    What kind of studio/ gallery space do you work in?

     

    I have a wee room in my home, 3m x 4m. North light and neighbours peep through the window. I’m beginning to outgrow it now but it has been so nice working at home with my cat.

     

    What advice would you give to people who want to get involved in art?

     

    • If you are nervous, it shows that you care.
    • If you want to be good, don’t give up practicing. If something seems impossible, carry on practicing until it is easy.
    • Wear many hats. Once the first hurdle of learning how to make your work well has been leapt over you will still need to learn how to market your work and plan your time effectively to meet demands from galleries or private clients.
    • Enjoy it. Or stop. There are easier ways to make a living!

     

    What do you think is the importance of art to society?

     

    Like an oasis in a desert, like a question posed by a child which exposes the fact that the emperor is naked, like bird song,

     

    Art is vital.

     

    WEBPigasse 2013 Anne

     

     

  • Art Profiles: Jonathan Hood

     

    August's Artist Profile

    We were lucky enough to be able to go and speak to one of WASP Dundee’s resident artists, Jonathan Hood for the second of our Dundee art profiles.

    As always we were interested to know about the artist’s background and artistic education. Hood told us;

    “I went to college straight from school but I was very lucky because my school art teacher just encouraged me the whole way.  I remember a careers officer when I was about 17, and he said, “What is it you want to do?” and I said “I’m very much sold on the idea of going to Art College”.  And he said, “To do what?” And I said, “Drawing and painting”. And his response was, “That’s a woman’s hobby, you can’t do that. How about architecture?”  And eventually he said “We’ll compromise, I’ll put you down for art history”.  And I thought you’re not listening to me…And he wouldn’t hear me.”

    Paris and L'Ecole des Beaux Arts

    Despite this Hood did go on to Art College and studied at Duncan of Jordanstone from 1976 to 1979.  He then left his studies there to follow the route many of the worlds and history’s most famous artists have; to study in Paris.

    “That sounds all very grand and everything,” he says, “but it was basically, well, I got into L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. It was effectively a drawing class but I learned more there than I learned the whole time in Dundee. I was living along the road from the Jeu de Paume and the Pompidou centre, and all these wonderful little private art galleries dotted about the place. If you go over to the left bank in Paris, round Boulevard du Saint-Michel, Rue Saint- Antoine you’ve got all these different tiny galleries.  There were these immediate connections to things and it really blew me open.  I spent a year there and there’s some wonderful stuff.  The way that France and the French deal with painting is different. Painting is very, very much alive.”

    After this seminal experience in one of the world’s artistic capitals, Hood returned to Scotland.

    Getting Started

    “I came back 1980/81 and had a few years knocking around…trying to be a rock star at one point…that was quite good fun.  But I always painted.  At that point I was self employed and I was beginning to get noticed.  I spent a little bit of time on the dole, which is always, and was especially so in the 1980s, a very character building situation.  But there was this thing called the Enterprise Allowance Scheme so I decided to go on that and got picked up by a couple of galleries in that time and I was doing quite a lot of portraits of people’s dogs and things like that. I paint the whole animal rather than these terrible head and shoulders things.  I’d rather do the whole creature.”

    Whilst Hood attempted to establish himself, he was fortunate to be noticed by Christine Heinzel, an event which may have substantially altered his fortunes.

    “About 20 years ago, 25 years ago, Chris Heinzel walked through that door, and says “I really like your work,” and she had just opened a gallery in Aberdeen; Gallery Heinzel which is still running though it’s not run by her anymore.  One of the best galleries on the East Coast, and I took my work up and she phoned me a week later saying have you got any more?  And I said yeah, well why?  And she said we’ve sold it all….which was a bit of a shock.”

    Inspiration and Method

    It isn’t hard to see why Hood’s eye catching work has proved so popular over the course of his career.  We wanted to know a little more about how he chooses his subject matter, materials and his method.

    “I started off doing these landscapes.  I was going out just taking photographs, going out walking, and then people started appearing in them and then the people sort of took over.”

    Jonathan Hood Artist 3 take 5 - 31x31 inches

    “I use various techniques to achieve various results. Sometimes I use collage, sometimes if I can’t be bothered painting an aeroplane I’ll cut one out and stick it on.  Or taking sports photographs, ripping them up and then sticking them back together, you get all sorts of interesting different forms and shapes.  Predominantly I work in oil,”

    “Before I very rarely used acrylics, but I got started using them through a project.  I was asked if I would paint some murals in a little private zoo near Edinburgh.  Basically painting backdrops, jungle scenes, things like that and I thought why not, it seems like a good way of sort of cleansing the mind.    And I won’t really have to think too much about what’s going where or anything like that.  And that was painted in acrylic.  That got me back into that and I thought ok, I’m going to try something out on hardboard, because I prefer hardboard.  You can get great vibrant colours with acrylic.”

    Jonathan Hood Artist New Work 2015

    Spontaneous inspiration is important to subject selection in Hood’s work also.

    “One of the things that I do sometimes is I see something and I just get that click. It’s about observing and it’s about taking your time. One of the first things I was taught about when I first went to Art College was looking and observing.  And just taking in what you see in front of you, because most people will look at that and say what colour is that wall, well white, but there’s actually all sorts of different things you can be trained to see that aren’t immediately obvious.”

    The Future of Art

    We asked Hood about what he thinks prevents people from getting into or involved with art?

    “There’s a lot of fear surrounds art now.  A lot of people seem to feel it’s far too far above them, or they don’t understand it.”

    We asked about what advise Hood would give to those about to embark on an artistic career, the response was practical but ominous.

    “Students are not taught anything practical at college these days.  We used to have a class, materials and methods.  And we were taught how to make rabbit glue, we were taught how to make varnishes, you were taught how to make your own primer, prepare your own ground, chalk and gesso and so on. These skills are disappearing fast.  I come from a time when we’d spend hours in the dark room processing large black and white prints.  People don’t sit in a dark room breathing fumes anymore, it’s all digital.  These skills are disappearing, and at our peril.”

    Fiona MacHugh

     

    Jonathan Hood regularly exhibits work in various galleries including the Sun Gallery, Newburgh, Scotland, the Eduardo Allessandro Gallery, Broughty Ferry Scotland,  Abiergo Casanova Gallery,Lucca Italy, Jeanne o Contemporain 2012 Orleans, France and the Laurel Gallery, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, Scotland.

     He welcomes visitors to his WASPS studio during working hours or by appointment, contact: Studio 201, Meadowmill, W. Henderson Wynd, Dundee, DD1 5BY

    Tel:  0772 933 1250

    You can also follow his work on his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jonathanhoodartist

     

  • Review of Wildlife Artist of the year by Making a Mark Blog Spot

    Here you can read a thorough review of the Wildlife Artist of the Year winners.  Check out winner Nick Mackman's ceramic warthogs, they are amazing!  We also really love the winning Monochrome entry Bee (1) from Patricia Rozental.  Have a look at these and other winners and entries and get inspired!

     

    http://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/review-wildlife-artist-of-year-2015.html

  • Art Profiles: Sophie Gackowski

    Sophie Gackowksi of Just Miniature Things (Small Curiosity Shop?) is our first interviewee in our new art profiles series which aims to introduce local artists and their work to our readers. 

    "A vibrant artistic spirit."

    Having started at Art College at 15, Dundee resident Sophie undertook a year of fine art and a year of interior design before making the decision to not continue with a formal art education and to do a degree in literature and philosophy instead.  “So I’ve got two degrees, but nothing arts based” she laughs.

    Sophie now makes 1/12th scale miniatures of normal life size things; amongst the examples she has brought along to show me are a tiny pack of tarot cards, tiny erasers, tiny chocolate bars, tiny everything…

    She first became involved in this nano-world through dolls house miniatures.  A collector herself she was motivated by the prohibitive prices of many pieces to begin making her own.  From there she moved on to making miniature scenes in an attempt to attract interest from outside the dolls house market.  These little sets, as seen in the pictures below can be bought as little ornaments.

    dinnder  violin

    When asked how she sees herself as fitting into the dolls house market which got her started, Sophie feels her position is confused at the moment.  Top end items of the dolls house miniature market she tells me can cost up to £700 or £800.   A lot of the people who make miniatures, like furniture, also make the life size equivalents and so are coming to the table with a very high skill set.  However Sophie doesn’t see this as a problem.  Rather than being boxed in to the dolls house market she is trying to take the concept of miniatures and seeing how they can be developed.

    Sophie uses all kinds of craft materials to create her mini curiosities.

    “That’s the fun of it,” she says, “because you get to work with wood, you get to work with metal, you get to work with sculpture…all kinds of mediums but just sort of condensed.  I use a lot of everyday things which you would just find around the house, cocktail sticks are invaluable, but yeah, Fimo.  I spend a lot of money on Fimo.”

    She also uses a specialised set of tools, including mini fretsaws and chisels.  These items are also quite expensive she tells me; another reason which can make it quite costly to get involved in this area, and which has to be factored into the price of the work.  Sophie is trying however to create a more accessible range of miniatures price wise, the kind of thing that students could buy as gifts, “Because not everyone can afford to spend £50 on something small.”

    After half an hour of speaking to Sophie and seeing her work it is clear that Sophie has a strong creative ethos and a vibrant artistic spirit.  So what was it, I ask, made her decide to abandon her arts degree and go into the humanities and what was it which brought her back to art?

    The short answer was competition she says,

    “Realising there are some fantastic artists out there and seeing yourself perhaps as not as capable, not as talented….and also money.  At the time, when I was sort of sixteen or seventeen I was thinking about getting a job and having money and being able to live a comfortable life, and I thought it would be easier to do that with a degree in literature than in art which is ridiculous.  I think everybody has that idea, and I think a lot of people go into the humanities who are actually quite creative.  So that was what put me off and it took a few years but now I’m finally getting back into it, because now I know that money doesn’t actually matter that much, you just need what you need to get by.”

    “I had a bit of a strange time last year.  I was diagnosed with cancer in August, and had my arm amputated.  So before I had two, which made it a lot easier to do miniatures.  And that completely, completely shifted my perspective.   I thought, no actually I’m going to do the miniatures because I enjoy it and if I don’t make any money out of it then I’m still doing what I enjoy.  I realised that I don’t want a nine to five and I want to do creative things and do arts things, and do what I love.  So I guess that’s what’s happened with regards to going back into art.”

    It is quite simply nothing short of awe inspiring to be in the presence of such a positive attitude of determination not only to not allow this experience to limit her creativity, but also to actively use it as a way to re- embrace her artistic practice.

    Sophie’s philosophy should be an example to all.

    Being creative is a therapeutic thing

    “You don’t have to make money out of it [art]; it’s such a therapeutic thing.  Being creative is the closest thing you can get I think to nurturing your soul and your spirit.  It’s just being kind to yourself. I think more people should just sit down and scribble drawings if they fancy scribbling a drawing.  It can be a kind of diary.  But people don’t often see it like that, and they compare themselves too often to people who are extremely talented artists, who might have huge galleries and exhibitions and make loads of money, and that’s fantastic for them, but its important I think that people don’t perceive it as so elite.”

    This is often such an unusual attitude to encounter in the highly competitive art world that it is extraordinarily refreshing to see this democratising attitude to creativity. ship  tarot

    So how, I wanted to know, does Sophie choose the things she creates?

    “When it was more hobby based,” she tells me, “I would always make things as gifts.  I started out meaning to make things for my own dolls house, and then ended up usually making things as presents for people because that was a good point of reference I suppose.  Like a fiddle workshop I made inside a full- sized violin.  Whereas now I would say I’m less picking up things and thinking I would like to make that and more thinking about what people might be interested in in miniature.  In terms of the dolls house market, I like making curios, because people are very strict about the period their dolls houses are in and the things they put inside, so most people go for Victorian.  The Victorians were massive collectors, so making tiny butterflies, or tiny death masks, things related to palmistry and tarot and things that Victorian people would have had as little knickknacks.  Because the furniture is taken care of,  and the glass and amazing food and things that people can make who are absolute experts at doing that, but there’s not a lot of people producing curios.  It’s fun.  It’s really fun.  I’m thinking of branching out into tiny taxidermy….”

    It’s unusual enough to find somebody who creates life size taxidermy, let alone mini-taxidermy these days.  This is too intriguing an idea not to follow up, how exactly does she intend to create mini taxidermy?

    “ I guess it would have to be sculpture.  My father’s an antique collector and he’s got lots of taxidermy and he has a beautiful parrot under a bell jar.  Whenever I am making things I like to use things that I have around me so I can actually get the scale right, because I’m quite particular about that. So I suppose I would have to sculpt it out of Fimo, and carve into it the feathers and things…”

    So where do all these diminutive creations come into existence?

    “I have a Victorian table in the living room, which comes out and gets covered in things.  Because its tiny things, I don’t have to have a huge amount of space, and then in terms of storing the things, I don’t need much space either.  So there wouldn’t be much point in getting a studio.  Unless I was to be doing this full time.  So I just work from home at the moment.”

    Would she like to be doing this full time?

    “Absolutely, but I’ve never been particularly good at marketing myself.  It’s quite a difficult thing to get set up in and work out “Who are you publicising this to?” Who are your audience and your customers, and I think I need to figure that out first.  If I were to get a stall at the Kensington dolls house show next year I might think about getting a small space.  It would be lovely to be somewhere where I was working with other creative people doing things in arts.”

    With such a positive outlook on what she is doing and why, I wanted to know if Sophie had any advice for those people (potentially our readers) who want to get involved in art?

    “I would say to go into things for the right reasons.  Do it because you love it, and do everything you can to carry on with what it is that you love doing.  For people that don’t necessarily have any experience in the arts you just have to give it a bash.  Its like my background is writing and the first dozen stories that I wrote were awful, but you have to get the bad stuff out before any of the good stuff can come out, and its practice.  Every skill and every kind of art takes practice.  It’s taking that first step of actually putting pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas, or scalpel to a bit of wood and just giving it a go.”

    Sounds like good advice to us.

    Fiona MacHugh

    image

    If you want to see more of Sophie’s work, or are interested in commissioning some of your very own miniatures you can go through either her Etsy site:

     www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SmallCuriosityShop

     Or contact her through her business e-mail:

     justminiaturethings@gmail.com

  • Artist & Illustrator Kim Anderson

    Kim Anderson Artist & Illustrator

    We are working at home today and I came into the office after dropping our kids off to school, unsure what to do. I logged onto facebook and went through the news feed and, found something very unique and breathtaking that i just had to share. I will admit this, I have fallen in love! with this artist & illustrator.

    pink-frame

    Spontaneous Designs With A Wide rage of Art Materials

    Kim Anderson creates spontaneous designs using paint, pen, ink (Dr.Ph Martin Radiant Inks) and paper collage work to create her Family Trees and collages - where she uses various patterned and textured papers. Her artwork is designed and used for greeting cards, publishers and wrapping paper, and also for wall art in the UK, Europe and the USA.

    Kim is recognised for her excellent use of paint, pen, ink and paper collage work contributing to many of her beautiful ranges including, Crème & Noir, Papillon and Mimi.

    Kim Anderson 4

    Kims success commercially has naturally followed on from her inspirational artwork and led to several collaborations with high profile companies as well as running her successful online Etsy shop. The artist lives and works from home in Kent and has her own beautiful studio where she creates her beautiful designs.

    kim anderson 8

    Kim Anderson 2

    Kim Anderson is in high demand for her family trees and is always being commissioned for these (above is just one example of many).

    kim anderson 5

    Not only does the artist & illustrator create stunning trees but she paints hearts as well which prove to be a hit with newlyweds. How gorgeous a gift that would be to receive as a wedding gift, framed too!

    Kim Anderson 3

    Examples of Kim Andersons greeting cards as shown above. These cards are just beautiful and you would certainly know cards if you walked stumbled upon them, as Kim has her very own signature and it is noticable straight away.

    kim anderson 7

    Kim has had some of her designs created into cross stitch patterns as well as her greeting cards and collage work. Now that I have seen this I would love to purchase one of her cross stitch designs and create, could see this being made into a cushion with very pretty floral fabric on the other side.

    Kim Anderson 1

    Above just shows an example of Kims' collage work, I can just see this in a box frame hung on a wall.

    kim anderson 6

    I simply love this teacup with little butterflies fluttering out the teacup and lots of pretty tiny flowers adorning the teacup also. This is called "Flower Burst". Absolutely delightful and the colours are gorgeous. This would be perfect for on the walls of a bakery or cafe.

    Below is just showing you an example of Kim Anderson's collage work where she uses an array of pretty patterned papers creating her illustrations. I think these owls are just really twoo twoo cute!

    kim anderson 9

    Her inspiration is found from all around her in daily life but is also inspired by magazines and well known artists Elizabeth Blackadder, Picasso and the Bloomsbury Group. You can see more of her designs and creations on either her facebook pageor her website. Amazing artist & illustrator.

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