Do you think having come from a creative family influenced your choice to be an artist?
I think having encouraging creative grandparents along with a particular aunty gave me confidence in trying new creative projects while I was young. I think I have taken this passion through to adulthood and it has helped influence my choice to be an artist.
Discuss how you combine floral, textiles and objects in your still life paintings.
Lately I have been playing around with levels and heights in my still-life. I have been designing my own objects within my current collection, for example I have been using hills and trees from my recent NZ painting trip to design objects within my still life paintings.
Have you been highly influenced by Margaret Preston’s work?
Being a Kiwi I have a lot of Australian art history to catch up on. I recently purchased a book on Margaret Preston to learn more about her and her work. I tend to be more influenced by todays painters and ceramicists.
Where do you source your flowers?
My favourite florist is Azalea Florist in the South Melbourne market, but as that is an hour away from me, I like to visit the Tooradin fruit and flower shop who are super lovely and will order in particular flowers for me.
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How does your art, work in with your current lifestyle?
I paint everyday and I would paint all night if I could. I have a great detached home studio which makes balancing home and work very easy. I can shut off work and focus on my home life after a day of painting. I am always focused on making sure I am balancing the need to paint with catching up with friends, exercising and family life.
You came to Australia from New Zealand do you use both Australian and New Zealand flora in your work?
I am currently working on a NZ inspired collection from my recent trip to NZ. This will be the first time I have used native NZ flora in my work, however NZ and Australia tend to share the love of some of my favorites, hydrangeas, proteas, dahlias & peonies.
How important is a good and supportive gallery in the promotion of your work?
I am blessed with a supportive Gallery but I also like to promote my work as I think it is a team effort. However, that’s not to say if you don’t have a gallery that you need one. Some of my favourite and very successful artists are self represented and doing very well.
Colour is ever present in your paintings, discuss.
I love to play around with colour however I rarely use the primary shades. I like to interpret my subjects in my own way and don’t always feel like I need to paint things in the exact colour they are.
What are your current goals for your art?
I have been working on my landscape language for a while now and would like to continue this work. I love the idea of travelling and creating a collection from the trip. I think your eyes are fully open when you are visiting somewhere new and I would love to be able to tell that story within still life and landscape works.
Discuss ‘Arranged Nature and Strips’.
Arranged Nature Strips, 77 x 67 cm, Oil on Canvas
This work was created after my trip to the US. I was particularly taken with my trip to the Getty and created a body of work based around my experience there. On the way home from the airport I was so inspired, we stopped off at the South Melbourne market and I purchased lots of produce and flora. This painting was based on the many still life works I saw at the Getty and the beautiful palette and architecture.
Take several paintings and expand on them and what makes each one sing.
Peonies, Waratah & Giant Poppies, 86 x 86, Oil on Canvas
Red Charm & Daffodils, Diptych. I think what makes this painting sing for me is that I always try and give my flowers little personalities and these flowers all seem to be turning to the warm light as if there is something to see.
Red Charm & Daffodils, 48 x 33, 48 x 33 cm, Oil on Canvas
Peony Buds and King Protea. As above, my goal with my flowers is to give them personality, this one sings for me as it is like a parent looking over her three young children.
Comment on ‘The City Flower’
The first time I used a diptych set up was with an underwater painting of two figures. I had the women on one side and the male on the other side (canvas) and they were holding hands in the middle. I wanted to experiment with this in still-life and have enjoyed playing around with the composition, how to make each section equal in its own right and also work well together.
City Flower, Dyptich, 47 x 47, 47 x 43 cm, Oil on Canvas
The thought process in the sizing of each image and composition of both. It really is me setting out a personal challenge for myself, I will keep working on the sketch and composition until I am happy with it.
Do you find our work coming out of your studio, is very seasonal?
Last year I did seasonal releases and challenged myself to investigating and painting what flower was in season when. This year I my aim and goal is to tell more of a story with a collection and not to have so many rules 🙂
Deborah Blakeley, Melbourne, Australia
Interview by Deborah Blakeley, September 2019
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