I’m asking people about an activity or skill they love. This week I’m happy to share my interview with representational artist Wendy Andrew…
1. What drew you to becoming an artist?
I have always drawn and painted and made things! My father was an artist and took me to life drawing classes as a young child, so being an artist was in my blood.
2. What about painting and drawing, challenges and delights you?
Painting and drawing is always a challenge… sometimes in a good way; like the exciting challenge of learning to use a new medium (I have recently discovered the joys of egg tempera paint and gold leafing). Sometimes the challenges can be quite difficult when you have a picture in your mind of how you would like the piece to be and you can’t manifest on the paper or canvas. That’s when a break is called for; a cup of tea, a walk in the woods or a meditation session! Then when you come back the painting usually flows. There is something magical that happens when the ‘flow’ is there. You can’t make it happen, it just comes and when it does it’s a true delight!
Different subjects often call for different mediums, as different mediums can create different energy. Also the medium is often dictated by the size of the finished piece. For instance, smaller pieces are usually watercolour and larger pieces are acrylic or oil. I often work in series of paintings; very often working with the wheel of the year. Each season has a different energy and its very exciting connecting to the sacred energy of each season and finding ways to depict that special quality.
SET THE SCENE: Please describe the experience of painting or drawing to someone that has not done it before… It’s difficult to say where that first spark of inspiration comes from, but when it arrives it can be very persistent in its endeavour to be manifest. Sometimes it feels like it has chosen you to be its passage into the world! As a fairly representational artist, I look for reference material that will help me create the painting. It can be objects or taking myself out into the countryside and sketching or taking/finding photographs. I gather them around me and draw ‘roughs’ to work out composition, colour etc. I then choose the size and medium of the piece and set to work. I love this stage as it is very fluid and fresh!
As the painting evolves it often takes on a ‘mind’ of its own and sometimes changes a lot from the original drawings. During this period, I don’t like to be disturbed as it becomes very intense! I think one of the most difficult points of a painting is knowing when to stop. It’s like adding salt to your cooking; you can’t take it out once its added, but if you don’t add enough the dish may be a bit bland. Hey ho that’s one of the challenges of being an artist… and the reward is fantastic when you get it right! The best bit is when someone sees the painting and it ‘speaks’ to their heart. You know you have done your job in letting that spark of inspiration fly free!
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In my novel Sky Drum, Nettie is an artist, potter and active member of the community. As the protagonist’s grandmother, she is the main feminine influence in Ora’s life. Her perspective on the world aligns with nature. Her thoughts and beliefs are given with humour and a strong sense of self. Her creativity is expressed through art, clothing and celebrations; such as her moonlit birthday picnic.