Tuesday, December 15, 2015

ERIKA HESS




I begin each of my paintings with a compositional idea in mind and a narrative derived from my day-to-day experience. The narrative may be based on a personal exchange or driven by an object in my studio. Recently the narrative in my work comes from the act of giving and receiving flowers. I am interested in the action that takes place on the canvas involving the viewer. Are they, the audience, being given flowers? Is the figure on the canvas giving or receiving? I am also interested in the historical significance. The action of giving flowers is a tradition we still partake in for the birth of a child, a gift for a lover, the death of a friend. It is a way to communicate a deep emotion that we may not have the words to express. In that way, flowers are a way to visually communicate just like a painting. 

The medium of oil paint and the physical process of adding and subtracting materials allows the process to dictate the evolution of my work. I do not begin with a finalized image in mind but rather a compositional idea typically involving the relationship between figure and ground. Each revision of the piece leads to a more activated image and surface leading toward the final image which is something I could not have imagined or anticipated. -  Erika Hess


Tell us about your education - what did you find the most valuable from that education.

I went to Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio to study art as an undergrad and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I studied with Glen Cebulash and Diane Fitch, wonderful painters and minds. It really felt like a bohemian experience of living for your art. I was surrounded by a great group of artists who pushed each other to excel and I lived in the studios. I went to Boston University for grad school to study with John Walker, Dana Frankfort and Richard Ryan. It was the perfect fit for me. I just wanted to paint and that was what the program was about, being in the studio making work. 

The most valuable part of my education was working with and meeting my professors and peers. I met a lot of wonderful painters who I can still invite into my studio today.


Where are you located  currently - what do you like about where you are?

I moved back to Boston a year and a half ago. Being back in Boston has been great because I know painters in the area. One thing I have learned as an artist is you need other artists around you. Boston has a lot going for it in the way of the arts and it is also a short trip to other great art locations like Providence, RI, New Haven, CT and of course NYC.



 Do you work from a studio?  Tell us a little about it. 

I do. This is the first permanent studio I've had and I love it. I've always rented space. There are definite ups to renting in a studio building which is a built in community. I miss that part but the security of having a studio that will be here for years feels wonderful. My partner and I bought a house and the basement, which has a huge wonderful window, is my studio. There is also a workshop space that we have a chop saw in so I can build stretchers. 



What is an average day like for you? 

 7:00-Up with my daughter, coffee/yoga/work emails 11:00 nap time for her and studio time for me.  1:00-Up with my daughter-errands  4:00-nap time for her and studio or work time for me. 6:00- Take a walk and meet my partner. Dinner/bath/time to read and go to bed. Of course we mix it up but this is pretty typical.

How do you balance making art and motherhood?

When I had my daughter I was really stressed that I would stop making work. As a woman and an artist there is always a whisper in the background that you can't have a kid and be an artist. I mean it's such a trope in the art world.  I've continued making work and the bottom line is pretty banal. For me it's about time management and just getting in the studio even if I'm exhausted.  


What are you challenges as a mother artist and what have you learned? 

The biggest challenge right now is getting large chunks of time to work. Right now I work in 2 hour blocks if I'm lucky. It makes it hard to get into a large painting so I scaled down in size. That has made work much more manageable. I remember an artist saying that your art comes first and you should move hell or high water to change circumstances for your art. I'm the complete opposite. I believe in living a full and authentic life and that your work adapts to your life and your life adapts to your work, it's symbiotic. 



What is your favorite medium and why? What do you most often work in?

I work in oil. I love the color you can get with oil and how juicy it is. It's a pretty forgiving medium and I love how you can build the surface. I've been working in oils for over a decade and I'm still fascinated with them.



As an artist - can you share your art making process with us? What inspires your work?

I work in a series. Typically the series comes out of a simple idea like figure/ground relationship or a shape.  I look at a lot of paintings and many times something I see in someone else's work, whether it be a master work or a peer's painting will influence what I am working on. I think it's important to keep looking at paintings.  


What are you currently working on - tell us a little about it and what influenced it.

Right now I am working on The Flower Bearers, a series of paintings of people giving and receiving flowers. This is the most personal series I've made in a long time. In one year a great painter I went to grad school with passed and my daughter was born. There was a show for my friend who passed where we were asked to paint flowers. He had painted amazing flower paintings that are incredible. I started painting a piece for the show and it was an intense time of reflection on life, birth, death. I was struck by the role flowers play in major life events. When my daughter was born we were sent flowers, when you lose someone you receive flowers and flowers of course have historical weight in the way of painting.  It's something that has stayed constant from past to present even with the implementation of digital media. 


Do you feel that becoming a mother has influenced your artwork? 

Yes, in a couple of ways. The first is how I go about making. Because my studio time has been cut back I literally have to get in the studio and go. Before I would slowly ramp up and had the luxury of self doubt. Now when I'm in the studio I paint, sketch from master works/my work or stretch canvases. 

The second is in that the figure came back into my work. I was trained figuratively and the figure left my painting around 2008/2009 and I began making abstract work. Over the past 4 years the figure has slowly been creeping back in and once I became pregnant I was so involved with the body the figure came back full throttle. 


Do you have any words of wisdom for other mother artists out there trying to balance it all? 

I'm still pretty new to this so I think there are probably mother artists out there who could give me advice! I do have advice for mothers to be or women thinking about having kids and are artists. Don't fall victim to the idea that you can't have kids and still be an artist. I think this idea is another anti-women sentiment meant to control women. Also as my undergrad prof Diane Fitch once said to me, "Sometimes you have dirty laundry." I still think of that. 

If you as a mother artist could have one thing - what would it be? 

Time. But I would have said that before I was a mother artist!




Do you think that female artists are taken seriously in 2015? 

I think that while we are in a time where female artists are taken more seriously we still have a long way to go. There was an article by Jerry Saltz that came out relatively recently, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Bad-Boy Artists" . While it is an interesting read I think we can see the problem just in reading the title. Women artists are always measured and compared to the "norm" which is cis male artists. Therefore women will always be put into the position of less than and cannot be seen as innovative.

What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

I want to be remembered as a great painter who challenged herself, challenged others, was curious, and supported artists around her. 


Erika b Hess

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stylelikeu







Just as we wave goodbye to June - and say hello to July in all of its glory.. I conducted my very first phone interview with one of my favorite mother-daughter duos who are leading a movement that empowers people to accept and express their true selves. 

I hope that you enjoy this very special interview with the lovely and passionate Elisa Goodkind.. please follow Stylelikeu on social media and check out their book! 






Where are you from? 

I'm originally from a place called Westchester County... which is about 15 miles from Manhattan and the town is called Rye, NY. I grew up there , it was in the 70s. It had a very big influence on me as a person.. like, tremendous.


Where are you now?

I live  in Manhattan - on the Lower East side with my husband who I've been married to for 30 years. He is someone that I met in high school. I switched from public school to private school when I was  junior.  We were only friends then. Eleven years later when I was in my early twenties after I had gotten into the fashion industry and I was a fashion editor at all of these big fashion magazines - he came into my life.


Tell me a little about your upbringing as a child.. 

A lot of what fueled me to do what I am doing now is that I am basically the black sheep of the family.
 I am a rebel, and I have been a rebel from the beginning. I wouldn't conform to anything and I came from this very upper middle class , Jewish.. very liberal family. My father is a humanitarian and to this day he still works full time. He is in his 80s and he is very youthful, and cares about the world. I grew up with that...knocking on doors for George McGovern when I was like 13 years old and starting camps for under privileged kids and all of that stuff. But, at the same time there was  a certain elitism - you know, you went to Princeton, you went to Harvard law school there was this sort of upper middle
class elitism that I really didn't like and I really struggled with it. My friends were always a very mixed group of people.. not from my socioeconomic status at all. I didn't really want to go to the country club. I struggled.. I was dropping acid in the sleep away camps. I was still a leader and positive but I  didn't conform. And I was living very much in that time where music was so very important... I was 11 years old when Woodstock was going on.  So this was very influential for me .. rock 'n' roll.



What is your educational Background?

I went to Connecticut college in New London and I discovered Art History, which was huge for me. I switched my senior year to Barnard which is the girls part of Columbia when I was a senior- for art history. That was a huge thing because I really found my visual. I feel all of the world as if I am always talking a picture , always painting a painting. I did the best in school once I found that part. That was a huge turning point and afterwards, I worked at the Guggenheim Museum right out of college. The curator at the time was this real maverick, and NYC was incredibly exciting at that time in the 80s and she left to start the new museum which was  this underground type place, now its like a big thing. I went with her to do that .I remember setting up exhibits, like of dogs fights from the south  as an exhibit. It was just really insane! Then, ultimately I wrote to all of the art and fashion magazines. I felt I wanted to be in publishing and I just wrote them all. I didn't have any connections. I got an interview ..which was really exciting. Not at all corporate , very funky, fascinating, amazing people .. very bottom up, very eclectic .. you know, Vogue ,Glamour, Mademoiselle, GQ, Vanity Fair and I started in House and Garden for a second and then they moved me right over to be the assistant editor to the fashion and beauty editor of Self Magazine which was just starting and the Vogue editors were our mentors . That was huge! All of the giant sort of characters were my mentors. Like these very unique individual people who's style, each one was a complete character in their own way. They were all very different and unique. No one was like the other, not like now. There was no such thing as a brand, no one cared about status , you would never buy Gucci  - that would be weird! 
I became a fashion editor and by the time I was 25. I was a fashion editor doing my own shoots, traveling all over. I had a lot of responsibility, I really loved it and I felt that I really had found my tribe of people. It was very eclectic, and very empowering to be my own person. It was a business of black sheep. It was an incredibly exciting time in New York City - it was just an absolute eclectic, creative, insane phenomenon! 
My good friends were like Bobby Brown and Kenneth Cole .. like Kenneth Cole put his first pair of shoes on my desk. Bobby Brown, she and I would just hang out. She was a makeup artist. Marc Jacob would walk around with his grandmothers sweaters and went to my wedding. Downtown New York was super seedy but super exciting and filled with incredibly eclectic and interesting people. We were paid to go out all night. We were paid to know what was happening in the world from the underground culture. Which is the opposite now.. magazines don't do anything with the underground  culture at all! Editorial pages were editorial pages .. there were no advertisers and yeah it was really free to express yourself, and really innovative. You were paid to be innovated. I brought a lot of that to this. 


When did you realize that you were different?

In some ways when I look back on it - my father used to call me a fine tuned instrument because I was so sensitive , and such an  observer. There was a lot of fighting, battling and always a lot of standing my ground . We were in the middle of a revolution. The Vietnam War, drugs, sex.. drugs and rock'n' roll. I didn't feel that different with my high school crowd of friends. With them I felt very much a part of it. I felt different from my family.. like the striving to be in the elite. That was different for me. 


What influenced you?

Rock'n'Roll - 1,000 percent! 
Steve Winwood, Jimi Hendricks - I mean everybody...I mean, every week there was another album. That's all we did! Just eat it up. The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane..  we were running to Jefferson Airplane concerts .. they were free in Central park. I was brought up more, I feel,by that time..by the musicians . Music formed me as a person. 



What inspires you now?

The people that we feature on the site. I am obsessed with bring that back. Creating that bubble, our own utopia in the world. That there are more people in the world... that the true celebrities - and I mean worthy of being celebrated .. in opposed to people like Kim Kardashian. 



When did you realize that you couldn't go another day without starting Stylelikeu?

There was first a rumbling of it and a desire before Lily was going off to college and I was super,super,super,super alienated with what I was doing and what the business had become. You know bringing Catherine Zeta Jones her slippers and being talked down to by the publicist - just very celebrity marketing machine .That the fashion business had become. All that greed and money and not about beauty and excellence and inclusion and aspiration .So, I was super alienated and really frustrated and then there was an actual  moment with the very first photo shoot that Lily and I did in LA - outside of LA. There was this really cute black girl who started talking about being flat chested, and how she loved that part of her body. At the same time my agent was trying to get me back to New York to do this photo shoot with Katy Holland and one was like- money and my established career and my security- and the other- I didn't know what I was doing.. like chewing gum and turning the camera sideways. We had no idea what we were doing but it was memorizing and captivating and we knew at that moment that we were onto something so deep.  She was totally flat chested, no cleavage.. and she started talking about how much she loves that part of her body. You know, with magazines with the cleavage ... like barbie dolls. From that moment on - I was completely liberated. I threw out every padded bra... and never thought about it again! I love having the boyish body! I knew that was magical and golden in comparison to working with the boring Katie Holmes who could barley say a sentence even though I was getting paid. Yeah, that's what pops up when you asked the questions...  I knew that I HAD to do this!





What is a typical day at Stylelikeu?

Its non stop - it's like a ten  or eleven hour day . You know, it starts in the morning and I go to the gym. I am always reading the news- I am always on social media and everything feeds into it. I'm constantly going - I mediate first thing in the morning but right after that it is like- off to the races! And its nonstop sort of dealing with social media, dealing with the content for the site , dealing with sponsorships for the site for What's Underneath, dealing with putting things together for the documentary , preproduction for the documentary. The book is starting now -we are in the very beginnings for the new book.There is something top secret that I cant talk about.. 
but we have a staff that is invaluable .. we could never do it without them! 
We have Romona who does all the casting, who has almost been there since the beginning who has sacrificed tremendously and we could never have done any of this without her. Hands down - no way! She has gotten us through tremendous ups and downs and she's unbelievably dedicated and incredibly talented and an incredible person. 
And Seth is similar, he came a little bit later . But, he does all of the sort of the text and writing .. I do it with him but he makes it all move and I kind of just say yes or no .. and everything that goes onto the website, press releases, press, social media.. newsletters.. all that. The sponsors for What's Underneath.... We end up meeting a lot with people on the outside .. you know, partnerships with other magazines that we are in the works with right now. We do What's Underneath here - but we used to travel for the Closet. We are planning on bringing those back, we are going to change the name and start working on a new format for those so that they pull on the heart strings. So it still focuses on the style in people's home.. so that the message will get through with the self expression part.. everything about us is to empower people to express and accept themselves.  The expression part is an important part, aspect of self acceptance ..the other parts are more about the expression. 



Tell us about Whats Underneath?

What's Underneath is where we have people  inspiring and empowering people to take off their clothes as we ask them questions about style and identity and beauty and how they feel about themselves. What it does is unveils the very predominate and prevail social issues of our time which are huge body issues , race issues, everything we do is What's underneath ... Second skin.. but What's Underneath does it in a very literal way. 
We are literally smacking people in the face with how how brain washed we are to hate our bodies, to hate our race, to hate our age, to hate our sexuality, our gender, you know, physical conditions. We are always getting deep with them. The whole website is meant to be cathartic - to be empowered .. to be more empowered to be themselves than someone else!


Self love and acceptance... how does one learn to love themselves the way they are right now?

You learn by hearing the stories of other people..which is through the stories we are telling. You learn by just doing it!
Like Lily has gotten over a lot of her body issues - but she still struggles with them- but by being honest and looking yourself in the mirror and staring at yourself in the mirror and saying this is OK, this is the way I am! For me, for instance, right now - I just stopped putting any color in my hair.. its subtle, It's step by step. It's nothing that you can do over night. I think when you are very much supported by a community of people that is also doing things step by step it helps you change your thinking. It's really just like stepping back and observing and saying - what do you want to buy into- like, who are you? And, what do you want to buy into? Like , why are you feeding yourself this when you could be feeding yourself that? We are very brainwashed to think a certain way, and that's all very planned by the marketing machine so that they can keep getting richer. We really have to step away from that in order to find ourselves. 
Once you see others liking themselves than you are able to like yourself. Instead of saying I'm not this, or I'm not skinny enough, or I'm not that - stop doing that.. just change your thinking.  It's really our whole motivation. 





What have you learned since you started Stylelikeu?

That our human spirit is endless .. endlessly strong! That people are beautiful- if they feel that they are. People become beautiful.. like with us, like doing Closets, that when you shine the light on them, cause they're not used to light being shined on them.. they are used to light being shined on the same five celebrities over and over again. So, when you shine the light on them they become more beautiful during the process. Beauty is something , what I've overall learned hands down - when you add it up... is that beauty is one trillion percent from the inside. 




When did you become a mother?

I became a mother when I was 29 with Louis - who is a couple years older than Lily.. in
1987. 


Tell me about raising children and trying to a successful stylist..

It was really hard!  Stress, and torture and I quit. One of the reasons why I quit and started teaching yoga. Styling was impossible because it was an 18 hour work day and you had to travel all over the world. I am just too intense of a person and I'm not very good with the in between.. Like if I'm a mother than I am going to be a mother. I'm not good with babysitters and not being home all the time. So, that didn't work for me and I found yoga and that became a huge thing for me and it is also a huge part of style like you. The spirituality is really big for me. That was a huge chapter in my life and has a lot to do with what we are doing now. 
Walking away from it all was unbelievably painful and difficult. One of the craziest, insane things I have ever done! Now I can see from doing this - it was worth it.. but believe me it was painful until Stylelikeu and even years into Stylelikeu.



What is it like working along side your daughter?

Amazing!
Its unbelievable.. and she is kicking my ass. She's grown way beyond me and will continue to.She's my hero! She's one trillion percent more talented than I am. She has pulled this whole thing together.. and is incredibly confident. She's really humble and I'm not humble .. She's everything that I am not!




Do you have any advice for mother artists out there who are trying to balance it all?

Balance - I'm not the best balancer.. 
I think, actually - I could have done a better job of that. Now, I can see that I sort of had to go through all of that pain to get to where I am now. Which has taken a lot of personal sacrifice and tremendous will power.. so its fine- it all worked out. I think in the end you're better off balancing and keeping your own life and your own will which I wasn't that good with. I am too intense and kind of have one way about things, It's a blessing and a curse. Though it has served me well in some ways. I would say, if you can keep your finger in things and keep yourself..your kids will still be fine as long as they know that you love them. But, I will say that - I still think that I am really proud of my kids and they are incredibly focused and strong and are going the harder route and are really close to each other- and I think a part of that was my sacrifice and quitting what I was doing and being there for them. They have something inside of them, they have a strength. So, I'm not really sure what the answer is - I think that this is a very difficult question to answer cause you know, the motherhood thing and the kid thing is tough! I don't know if there is a perfect answer. I do think that they do need YOU.. and a lot of it for me was that I wanted to be there. I didn't want to miss it!




Did you have any support from family or friends to start up Stylelikeu?

Not really.
We have done this our self. My husband is a huge backbone and support. We sacrificed a lot financially and we all have totally changed our lifestyles. I gave up a big career and Lily didn't take the top level job - she dropped out of college. We did a major turn around and it's a struggle everyday. We really are on the brink of tremendous success and failure all at the same time. We are totally living on the edge.. We are wiped.. but we would never trade it.




What made you more comfortable in your own skin?

My parents were always like you're too passionate, you're too intense! Back in the 80's when I was working with all of the other passionate people who cared about art and expression , things bigger than themselves and changing things from the status quo .. I think it started then.



Tell me about the book that you published..

It was really about Stylelikeu in the first few years piled all together. It was really amazing to see it all together. Like the groups of the insane amount of creativity that we were uncovering, that was being smothered in the media, that no one ever saw any where else. The book was in the very beginning and we are onto the second book now.. 


Are you constantly searching for the next interview?

Yes! Constantly vetting, vetting through the possibilities.. 


What do you want to offer the world with Stylelikeu?

We want to change the paradigm.. the existing paradigm of what is beautiful.
We want the people to take their power back - to understand that they are beautiful as they are. And, for the entire marketing, economy, fashion everything to flip around.. instead of being a machine.. and marketing is controlling people that people are controlling it. I have a vision that it is a flourishing place with new designers again, with authenticity with small designers and the world not being run by big designers.  Changing the paradigm.. a mind shift. 



What do you want to be remembered for 

Making people live happier and liberated, freer lives.Creating joy and alleviating suffering. 

Get inspired by visiting Stylelikeu at :
http://stylelikeu.com/about-us/


https://instagram.com/stylelikeu/

https://www.facebook.com/stylelikeu

* All photos were submitted and belong to the artist. 




Saturday, May 23, 2015

CRIMSON MARY-KATE BONER





Where are you from
UK

Where do you reside?

Brighton, UK
What do you like most about where you live? I love the sea and the bright days. There are lots of arts and community things going on. It’s got beautiful architecture too.


Tell us about your childhood.

I was born in England.  When I was an infant my parents moved back to the very beautiful South Western Coast of Ireland and my brother was born there. We lived on a rugged peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf Stream which created a microclimate for beautiful, unusual plants. I loved it there and moved back to that house with my friends as a teenager. My father was a plasterer. We had little money but my mum was an artist and loved to take us to beautiful countryside and stately homes and galleries. My father was a troubled man who brought a great deal of chaos home. My parents were hippies and idealists, so we ate organic, listened to wonderful music, played instruments and enjoyed the countryside. Art and music are really highly valued by my whole family.


What is your educational background?

My family are auto-didactic and have been a major influence. I dropped out of school early. I returned in my late teens and was then absolutely hooked.
I love to study. If I had the money I would continue now. I have a degree in Art History of Africa and Asia and did Art Foundation Studies at Chelsea Art School and began my Fine Art degree at Central St Martins.
My grandfather was born in the 30’s into abject poverty, he lived through the second world war and had had only a few years of school education. He has taught himself all about history, Italian language and knows so much about Opera. He followed Mariah Callas around as a teenager and says he saw her over 40 times.
My Uncle is a classical composer, a free jazz composer and had commercial success with intelligent drum n bass in the 90’s as Spring Heel Jack.
My grandmother would drive the whole family to my uncle’s gigs and we would all go raving. We had a great deal of dysfunction in our family and no money to speak of but also a great deal of love for music and art.


When did you decide that you were an artist?

I was working for Tom Morris at Battersea Arts Centre, it was a good job, but he recognised that I lacked interest and used to ask me about what it was I really wanted to do. That got me thinking.
I started to attend life drawing classes and a part time foundation when I was 28. I hadn’t considered myself to have any ability before then. When I first painted in oils I realised that it was something that I could do forever, so fascinating so fulfilling and challenging.


Who has influenced you as an artist? 

My family have been a huge influence on me, they love theatre, film , art, music . From a very young age I have been exposed to the avant-garde by my family.  We have grown up with very little money in social housing but with a real passion for music and the arts.



Do you have a favorite artist ?

I love Marlene Dumas, Daniel Richter, Strinberg, Joni Mitchell, Odilon Redon, Vuillard, Rembrandt, Cornelia Parker, Peter Doig and Jan Svankmayer

What music do you listen to inspire you?

At the moment I am painting to two songs on a loop ’60 seconds’ by Spring Heel Jack (my uncles music) and ‘A limit to your Love’ the cover of Feist by James Blake




What is your favourite medium and why?

Oil Paint – strength of pigment, it’s vivacity – the stains washes and gloss. The fact that it can be moved about. The way it dries and yet still looks liquid.


When did you realize you couldn't live without art?

When I had my kids and was trying to just be the ever present mum and put their needs first and realised I was a bit of a glum mum because I was neglecting my own needs. When I paint regularly maybe once or twice a week, my mood is lifted enormously.



Do you have a studio? Where is it?

Yes, it is in what was once our bedroom. We moved into the kids’ room and now I have somewhere to work. I realised one day that it was easier for me to accept that I wasn’t making it out of the house.




What inspires your work? 

 Colour, emotional inquiry, and the tension between hiding and revealing things.


How often are you in the studio? 

About twice a week.


Can you tell us a little about your art making process?

I have favourite paints because of the way they stain the canvas. Indian yellow is a favourite, as is cadmium red, quinadrone red, pthalo blue and rose dore. I often use an image as a starting point, often a photo. Usually the image triggers an emotional response in me, like my Muffa series based in sketches of my mum and her life long struggle with asthma and sensitivity to mould. Or my wedding series based on photos taken when I attended a traditional Turkish wedding of a man I knew who had been having a relationship with a friend of mine and his arranged marriage to a 15 year old girl from the village. I am often making inquiries into mixed feelings that I have about things.


Are you working on anything in particular right now? 

Yes. Right now I am working on a painting of some outdoor swimmers. It’s a great photo and I was attracted by the composition, so it’s not as emotionally driven as my work often is. It’s interesting as I am exploring what it is that helps me to carry a painting forward and make decisions.


What is your support network like as an artist?

I know many artist mums. I have found facebook has helped me to connect with women artists around the world. Mary Trunk’s film Lost In Living was a huge find for me, it helped me to really think about myself and how  I might allow myself to take time to make work again. I organised an artists’ book project recently with 19 women around the world. We each made books and gave them a theme and then posted them in a big circuit. It was a great way to feel connected and to make art which could fit around the needs of the family.


Do you feel that women in the arts are treated fairly- do you have any thoughts on that?

Well as women our identities are all tied up with social convention.
It’s simple maths to recognise that if women aren’t treated equally and are paid less in general then of course the same will be true of art. I studied Art History and of course it was dominated by male characters both in the art making and the criticism and scholarly writings, although most of the students were female.
I recently looked at The BP National Portrait Prize. The work was outstanding. All of the 5 winners were men. I imagined that one of the winners had painted one of my paintings and immediately I had a different sense of what my painting was. A friend said that all painting competitions should be anonymous for that very reason, she’s a writer and she said that many writing prizes are anonymous for that very reason.



Do you feel that mother artists are taken seriously in the art world?

I certainly haven’t found any funding to help to me to continue my practice since I’ve had children. I haven’t found a studio for me to work in with a crèche. I don’t feel that there are any support structures in place to help me as a mother and an artist to keep working and in that way I feel like I’ve just fallen off the map. Many of my favourite painters are men simply because that is the work that I have had access to and which hangs in the galleries.

When did you become a mother? 
When I was 34

How many children do you have?
2

How has having children influenced your work?
I am less fearful. I am braver. I take more risks. I work harder. Perhaps giving birth has stripped away some of the inhibitions and shame of girlhood.



How do you manage balancing both worlds?

It is very tricky, sometimes I may be engrossed in a painting and really knowing where it should head, I get distracted and called away, sometimes for days and I’ve lost my thread. I don’t have the time to get all of my visual ideas down and very often I don’t have enough money to buy materials and often don’t have the canvasses I need. I am the one who drops everything else when the children are sick, this is my choice, I want to be there for my children when they need me.


Has being an artist influenced your children?

Perhaps. I organized an exhibition a couple of years ago and my eldest had hand written notes to his class mates and teacher inviting them along. He seemed to be very proud. He will often say, we don’t have much money mum, but we are happy.


Do you have any advice for other mother artists on balancing being an artist and mother?

Do what you can, if you feel yourself burning out, take a rest. Make friends with other mums who are artists. Make a space for yourself to make the work you need to, don’t sacrifice everything, remember your artist self will not abide being suffocated or stifled! We need to see to be seen and to be reflected in popular culture in order to build our identities and claim a space for ourselves.



From a business aspect - what have you learned about making a profit from your work - do you have any advice?

Recently I have started to sell digital prints of my large oil paintings and people are really responding well. I am in the process of fixing up a website for myself too.
I do find that it is often friends who like my art and want to buy it and I initially found myself talking them out of it as I felt uncomfortable about accepting money. However, I have now figured out a straight forward discount for friends. I really need to earn a living and if I can do so from my art, that would be amazing, that is the direction I am heading in.


What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

I would like people to find my paintings emotionally stimulating. I would like them to enjoy looking at my work and for my work to trigger questions and feelings for them.


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* All photos belong to and were submitted by the artist.