This is Wonky Wheel’s first exhibition since lock-down, and we are excited to have Laura’s art collection on display from 1st to 31st August. Last night we hosted our live Preview Evening on Instagram, if you missed it check out my IGTV on Instagram. Since the exhibition opened we have Sold- Dashing (pheasant) , which is a great start to the opening of the Exhibition. We also have a selection of greetings cards from Laura's collection.
Mary meet Laura just over a year ago when she attended an Oil workshops in Ipswich, Mary genuinely enjoyed the day, as she doesn’t usually work in Oils. It was a very pleasurable way to spend a Sunday, when Laura workshops are back up and running again I would highly recommend to attend if you want to develop your skills in Oils.
In preparation for the exhibition Mary from Wonky Wheel Gallery and Laura sat down and had a chat around Laura’s love for art and what inspires the paintings.
Q: What do you love most about being an artist?
A: The best part for me by far is when I become completely absorbed in a painting - particularly in the final burst of activity as I get to the latter stages. There is something magical about the way the paint moves and responds to the brush or palette knife when you're in full flow. Colours are balanced, tones drawn out, marks are enhanced and what's in front of me changes from a faithful representation into something that has its own life. (DISCLAIMER - this doesn't always go to plan but when it does it's a wonderful feeling!)
Q: How would you describe your painting style and technique?
A: I make expressive oil paintings of animals and flowers. My style is figurative - and employs traditional techniques as a foundation. From this foundation I use expressive marks and brushstrokes to give the subjects drama, energy and life.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
A: I draw inspiration from the natural world around me. From my back garden to the fields and hedgerows of the British countryside - there is always something to inspire.
Q: How do you begin your paintings? Or does this vary each time?
A: The early stages of a painting come from a combination of sketches and photographs. I also use technology such as PhotoShop to 'collage' elements digitally to test out compositions.
Q: Are there any little tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years, that would help or inspire budding artists?
A: There are so many things I could say I'm not sure where to start! Here are a few of my top tips:
- Try to sketch as often as you can.
- Take time to notice the small things as well as the big things all around you. Inspiration is everywhere - the patterns of tree bark, old leaves, the shadow cast by a flower, the way light hits a bowl of fruit.
- Appreciate the world around you in all its visual splendour!
- My favourite piece of advice to give to students is, 'Stop listening to your brain!'. Your brain creates shortcuts or 'schema' and stops you from seeing truthfully. You have to learn to override what your brain thinks is there and see what is actually in front of you - as if for the first time. In other words: Draw what is there - not what you think is there.
- A 'quick and dirty' tip for checking tonal values is to take a photo of your subject on your phone and change the settings to black and white. You might be surprised at the difference between the dark and light areas!
- Keep on creating - and have fun with it.
Q: How do you create the perfect atmosphere / environment for painting?
A: The quality of light is the most important thing for me. I actually make most of my paintings in my dining room - because it has far better light than in any other room. In reality it's more about mindset than physical space (although you do need to be able to create a mess!). Try to make time for painting or drawing as often as you can - and dedicate that time and mental space to doing it often and fully.
Q: What do you personally find the most challenging thing about being an artist?
A: I am an over-thinker, which can be a real challenge for an artist as it can stifle creativity and hinder expression if it's not kept in check. I try to keep quite disciplined with time so I dedicate slots of time to the various aspects of running an art business so that nothing gets left behind and I don't dwell on the minutiae of one thing for too long at the expense of others.
Q: What’s the highlight of your career so far, or your proudest moment?
A: I think my proudest moment has to be painting two enormous elephant sculptures for the Elmer's Big Parade sculpture trail in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice in 2019. It was such a lovely experience to watch families running up to the Elmers I had painted with looks of utter joy on their faces!
Q: Who is your favourite artist, and why?
A: There are so many, it's very hard to choose so I'm going to cheat and give you a selection! Goya (in his Black period) for his expressive brushstrokes and dark drama, Artemisia Gentileschi for her dramatic compositions and narrative, Paul Klee for his mastery of colour, Paula Rego for her use of storytelling, Mona Hatoum for making ordinary things disturbing, Rachel Ruysch for her spectacular flowers (and winning the lottery twice in her life - which doesn't seem fair!), John Singer Sargent's amazing portraits, Turner's epic landscapes, Gustav Klimt's use of pattern against figurative work, Jenny Saville's glorious painterly bodies.
This list would probably change on a different day - but this is my top ten for this particular moment in time!
Q: What is your favourite piece in your collection for your artist of the month exhibition at Wonky Wheel Gallery, and why?
A: My favourite piece in the exhibition is 'The Protector'. It was completed during the strictest part of the lockdown period and represents some of my feelings during that time. I wanted to paint something that captured the strange times we have been living through and to work through some of my own emotions too. However, I didn't want to paint the anxiety that many of us have been feeling, so I decided to paint what I was desperately craving instead: Something much bigger and more powerful than me; Something that would watch over and protect; Something with grace and beauty that would counteract the chaos. This monumental stag seems to embody all of those things for me. He certainly made me feel better as he watched over me from the easel while his paint dried!
When Mary picked up the paintings for the exhibition Laura confirmed that she was thrilled to be chosen as Artist of the Month at the Wonky Wheel. "Small galleries like this are at the heart of art and cultural life across the country."
We feel we have created a safe and attractive space for visitors to visit the Gallery. The exhibition opens from Saturday 1st August at 10am
The gallery will be open Monday 10am to 4pm, Tuesday by appointment only, Wednesday & Thursday 12 noon to 4pm, Friday & Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 11am to 4pm. All of Laura’s paintings from this exhibition are available online at www.wonky-wheel.co.uk.