This months featured artist is my wonderful friend Denise Slattery. Through her amazing knowledge I have learnt so much about colour. She has shared her scenic artist knowledge with me enabling me to better decorate the fibre glass shapes I have been doing for charity over the pass five years. I am truely grateful for her friendship and the generous way she has shared so much with me.
Artist Interview Questions: From Routine to Convoluted
What’s your background?
I have a degree in Fine Art and fell into scenic art by accident. I have had a long career as a Scenic Artist (SA), starting out as an assistant SA at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, before deciding to aim to get into television and film. I joined the BBC in 1990 and worked in-house on a series of short-term contracts, before becoming self-employed full time. I continued to work in television for the next 25 years. When I gave up the scenic art to have a family I gradually went back to my own painting. I love colour and all its aspects and have taught art for many years, focussing on the good use of colour.
What does your work aim to say?
My paintings try to capture the essence of life and our surroundings and I paint what catches my eye, whether that be a piece of fruit or vegetable, a person or a landscape. I am inspired by colour and am fascinated by the fact that an arrangement of colour, be that in oil paint, acrylics or pastels, etc, onto a flat surface can give the illusion of something being three-dimensional or have depth. My work aims to try and express the emotion that moves me to paint the things I do and pass those on to those who view my work.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
It doesn’t. Or should I say that to date I am not making any political statement with my work. Even in my new body of work, I am just replicating what I see in my imagination onto paper. This may of course change as my work develops.
Who are your biggest influences?
My fellow artists. They give me feedback on my work and encourage me to develop my skills. Artwork wise I am inspired by so many artists and throughout my years as a professional artist I have had to copy a number of different styles. I love Hopper’s paintings, Monet, Manet, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Hockney and many others, depending on my mood. There are too many to list here!
How have you developed your career?
After many years focusing on my young family and teaching part time, I am now able, as my children are growing up, to take on more teaching roles and get back to making art for myself. I teach a number of students, young and old, in my own home as well as teaching at a local university. Having the opportunity to teach such a wide age range and ability base really keeps me on my toes and is fantastic experience for me.
I re-started my personal art career by getting into drawing and have been documenting my travels abroad from my own memories, having filled up a large number of sketch books. I have moved from realistic or ‘academic’ art into realms of my imagination and memories. My next steps are to produce a body of work based on my sketches in order to start exhibiting next year.
How do you seek out opportunities?
I don’t try to seek out too much at the moment as I have not finished the body of work but I do have a good network of artist friends who I know will encourage and push me to get my work done and exhibit with them. I have also just started to dip my toe into the world of social media and have set up a new Instagram account.
How do you cultivate a collector base?
Prior to having a family, I had a few people who would buy my work. Having put my work aside I now need to re-engage with those people whilst working towards cultivating a new more current set of collectors. I also need to produce a collection of work which I can market alongside building additional collectors to whom I can start marketing my work, baby steps.
How do you navigate the art world?
I love art and take a keen interest in what is happening in the art world. I visit many exhibitions every year. I am fortunate that I am in easy reach of all the wonderful galleries London has to offer and the inspiration it provides. I continue to teach which gives me just as much as it gives my students. I believe that bouncing-off ideas is essential when working as an artist. I shall be investigating and taking part in more of the social media sites available.
How do you price your work?
Periodically I am asked to produce or renovate Scenic Art, which I charge out on a daily rate basis. Rates are negotiated depending on each job.
For my private artwork, I look at what similar artists local to me are charging and pitch my prices just above the middle of the average they charge.
Which current art world trends are you following?
I am constantly aware of what is going on in the world of art. I feel that it is my responsibility as a teacher to do so. I am also very keen to explore different art forms – ancient and modern – in other countries. Finding a way to bring those investigations into the classroom is fascinating to me.
I am starting to get involved with modern technologies surrounding art, for example, looking at how best to use Instagram and Facebook accounts to reach more people. I realise that on-line selling is so popular that I need to better engage with that trend and plan to do more to publish my website etc.
It is I feel a question of making sure that you have a network of other artists around you who can support and encourage each other and collectively investigate and share current information. For too many years artists have tried to work in isolation. I watch my children sharing homework tips, working on projects together and generally supporting each other through their schoolwork, something my generation didn’t do at school, and I realise they have ‘got it right’. I am learning from them, the best way forward with my work.