Art is not what you see, it is what you make others see.
I have been asked by art and craft company Patience Brewsterto do an interview and to share some information about my life as an artist. Patience is an artist herself who designs handmade and hand painted Christmas ornaments.
If you follow my blog, you will know that I am not a “proper” artist, in that I don’t sell stuff and make a living from it. I have sold work and exhibited, but nowadays I am earning money from teaching art.
But then I asked myself, what is a “proper” artist? I do think of myself as an artist, as I regularly draw, paint, take photos or do some form of craft. I teach art and and try to bring art, photography or textiles into everything I do. I record my life in sketchbooks and photographs and share that with you on my blog.
Anyway, whether I am a proper artist or just someone who enjoys making art, here are my answers…
Question 1. As a child, do you recall a significant moment when you felt truly affected or inspired by any particular artwork or artist?
My mum was fundamental in influencing my interest in art and craft from an early age. I always had a passion for drawing, and had learned to sew and knit and by the age of six. From this young age, I used to accompany my mum on visits to various galleries in London, where we would go to see amazing art exhibitions at the Tate, National and Haywood Galleries and fantastic design, textiles and sculpture at the Victoria and Albert museum. My mum would give me and my sisters little palm sized sketch books to draw in and I would spend hours sketching the sculptures of Michaelangelo or the paintings by Titain, Renoir and Monet. Sat on the floor of the Cast Courts at London’s V&A museum, at the age of seven, pencil in hand, working on my observational drawing skills, is a significant moment in my life when I felt truly affected by the whole of the art world. This passion for art has stayed with me throughout my life and I am rarely without my sketchbook or camera.
The Cast Courts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sketches from the Cast Courts at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
My sketches from the Cast Courts at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum from my England Sketchbook.
My sketches from the Cast Courts at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Question 2. As an artist, what do you hope to convey with your work?
My main aim as an artist is to encourage people to notice more and to actually take time to stop and look, either at the mundane or the amazing. Everyone is in such a rush and life passes people by so quickly. I want to capture moments from life, everyday moments, which capture our lives. There is a quote from the artist Edgar Degas which seems to sum up my attitude and approach to my art: “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
Question 3. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
The best complement I ever had was connected to my photography, when the members of the Sheffield Photographic Society collectively agreed that my work had a look of the photos of Henri Cartier Bresson. People have also likened my photography work to that of Diane Arbus and Sally Mann. I recall someone saying that my portraits are similar to English painter Augustus John.
Photograph by Henri Cartier Bresson of children in Seville, Spain
Children playing with toy guns celebrating Eid Al Fitr in Arwad, Syria.
Question 4. What is your dream project?
My dream project would be to create an exhibition of my photos and paintings which showed different lives from around the world. I would also love to print my paintings and photographs onto material and then make them into clothes. Ultimately it would be my dream to create art full time and get paid for it.
Question 5. What artists, of any medium, do you admire? (Famous or not!)
There are so many artists I admire in so many different areas, Picasso, Matisse, Hopper, Caravaggio, Giotto, the Pre-Raphaelites and Kahlo. But my favourite is the relatively unknown painter Charlotte Salomon. This German-Jewish artist is primarily remembered as the creator of an autobiographical series of paintings called Life or Theatre. Her artwork is simultaneously morose and uplifting, with its dark subject matter and juxtaposition bright colours.
Charlotte Salomon’s paintings from her Life or Theatre collection.
I love the the sculptures of Brancusi, Kathe Kollwitz, Henri Guardiar Brzeska, Hepworth, Michaelangelo and Anish Kapoor and admire the conceptual artists Martin Creed, Cornelia Parker and Marcel Duchamp. And finally, I am hugely influenced by the photography of Roger Mayne, Sally Mann, Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau and Martin Parr.
Martin Parr’s Mona Lisa.
I hope you have enjoyed reading a little bit about the person behind Travels with my Art.
Thanks to Patience Brewster for asking me to take part in this interview.