This months featured artist is the wonderfully talented Carol Gillan.
Your name?Carol Gillan
Where do you live?
What is your background?
When I was growing up my parents travelled widely to countries in the middle and far east. I used to appreciate so much when I came back ‘home’ the greenness of this country, the farms and fields so apparent from the aeroplane.
After years absence from painting, while on maternity leave, I started to paint greetings cards (featuring children – paint what you know!), selling them to card and gift shops.
I progressed to watercolour illustrations before I painted a portrait of our white Boxer dog, Boo, in oils. We lived very close to farms and on dog walks I’d take my camera and take photographs of the sheep and dairy cows. A career in painting evolved from there supplying galleries.
How did you learn your craft i.e. college, self-taught and what did that entail?
I took one term of a Foundation Course in Art & Design at Brighton Art College before leaving (unfortunately). After that I’m self-taught.
Which media do you prefer to work with?
I prefer to work in oils because I feel it makes the animals glow. I paint thin layers, building up the texture and tone of the skin and hair. I’ve recently also been working in epoxy resin, which I love, over-layering the oil paintings and applying pressed flowers and paints. I’m also producing oil sketches on linen board. I love the linen for the rough finish and texture.
What does your work aim to say?
People lead busy lives; school run, commute, work, commute again etc and I’d like people to have the chance to ‘stop and smell the roses’ or, when looking at my paintings, smell the animals? Perhaps not, but hopefully they’ll give the viewer a moment to pause, relax and smile and bring them closer to nature.
Painting dairy cows and heifers has made me aware of the system that produces the milk that we drink, the conditions that they’re kept in and what an excellent job our dairy farmers do with the welfare of the animals at the core of everything.
Does your work comment in anyway on current social or political issues?
I’d like to bring people closer to nature and the animals in it as in many aspects of life we’re removed from the natural world with very little time to spare any thought to it. The environment is at the forefront of people’s minds and greenhouse gases – it has been mooted that there are just too many cows for our planet’s health.
Some of my new work has the addition of pressed flowers made into coronets on the heifers and cows. Although it might seem fanciful, a number of dairy farmers in Norway and Sweden make these for their cows. I really feel that we have a common thread of a love of animals and wanting to do our best by them.
Who are your biggest influences?
After seeing an exhibition of Louis Wain’s work at the Chris Beetles Gallery I was totally in love with his sketches and paintings of cats. Politics, commentaries on everyday life and, shown as his work became wilder, his cyclical descent into mental instability.
John Singer Sargent – the silks! I am influenced by the sketches he made in oil, pencil and charcoal, full of life, movement, the speed and fluidity that he conveys.
Turner – storms, dawns, fires – again with fluidity and wonderful expressive colour.
How do you navigate the art world?
This can be difficult – trying to have your work accepted by a new gallery (they may already have an artist whose style is similar to your own) – keep trying other galleries; online market sites (a multitude of artists) – careful choice of keywords and participate in promotions; your own website (literally hundreds of thousands of other artists with their own websites) – Google rankings, keywords again, blogs. It’s not all despair! Persistence and more persistence.
How have you developed your career?
After developing my style I supplied galleries and undertook commissions. I was awarded First Place in the DeMontfort New Artist competition in 2006, chosen by art retailers at the NEC Birmingham.
Artwork has been licensed worldwide.
Two artworks were featured in ‘Best House in Town’ on BBC One.
Original oils and giclée prints have been exhibited in the UK, Australia, USA and Europe; in offices, restaurants and on cruise ships.
I continue to supply galleries and am developing contact with other artists who have an interest in exhibiting nationally and at art fairs.
How do you seek out opportunities?
I frequently research galleries on social media and magazines and approach them with a selection of my portfolio. I post regularly on social media to connect with collectors and other artists.
I recently exhibited with The Exhibition Collective, a group of artists from around the UK, and am contacting artists with whom I can exhibit locally and at county/national art shows. I maintain a list of all those who have commissioned me in the past and who have purchased from me.
How do you cultivate a collector base?
I sell my work online through my website and through the online marketplace, Artfinder. I take part in the promotions run by Artfinder for home page placements and I enter juried art competitions as well as keeping a record of those who have purchased directly or commissioned me.
How do you price your work?
I am mindful that my work is available in galleries and so I keep my work on a par with them. I also factor in my materials, the time the artwork will take and my hourly rate also whether the work is to be sold framed or unframed.
Which current art world trends are you following?
There is a strong trend towards graphic and cartoon work – images of 1950/60s film stars and Disney characters against a pop and urban background. Also sketch work which is like preparatory paintings on a linen background.
I’m developing my resin work which, combined with my oil paintings, produces something which is totally unique and I’m working to produce artwork which can’t be found elsewhere. The use of resin with metallic embellishment, sometimes graphic sketches over the top of the resin produces an image which is more pop. I’m also working on linen board with a loose oil sketch with highlights of colour, also preparatory works for my more detailed work.
Do you know where you are heading career wise?
I’m developing my exhibiting opportunities, both with galleries and shows, devoting more time to networking to enable me to move into producing a range of goods which go hand in hand with my artwork i.e. kitchen goods, stationery and soft furnishings. I’ve developed a new website and, as well as selling original work, I’m going to have a range of limited fine art prints for sale.
Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?
Stamina, network with other artists and galleries, evolve your work – don’t stand still, commitment, keep going through the setbacks. Not everyone will appreciate or like what you do – be enthusiastic about your work – you will have your audience.
Where can people see your art? Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
I have work with The Acorn Gallery, Pocklington; Forest Gallery, Petworth, coming to Studio Art & Gallery, Frome. My work is also available from my website, http://www.carolgillan.com and also http://artfinder.com/carolgillan. I have limited edition prints published by http://creativefineart/carolgillan
How can readers find out more about you e.g. FB IG Pinterest etc?
On Artfinder, an online art marketplace
I have limited edition prints published by
I’m on Instagram