ARTIST OF THE WEEK CAROLE IRVING
When did you decide to become and artist and why?
I don’t remember making a decision to become an artist! during my childhood my Mothers family had several generations of artists who made their living from their creativity so it felt natural to paint and be generally creative.
What subjects give you most inspiration?
I particularly like painting flowers, probably because again from childhood I was surrounded by gardeners on my Fathers side of the family and I spent happy times helping to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables. I love the effects created by light and shade in the garden and also how a light breeze moves plants around, creating energy in the flower bed.
In Windy Border we see a blur of form and colour as you capture the effects of the wind buffeting a flowerbed. Can you tell us more about your techniques for capturing this sense of movement?
I’m often spellbound by the effect of a gentle breeze on the plants in a border and larger plants such a trees where the wind shows the underside of leaves and that creates a range of colours in the tree. As the wind gets stronger some plant stems are able to cope with it and they barely move whilst others are thrown back and forth. In this painting I was trying to illustrate a mix of movements.
What tool/equipment could you not do without?
My palette knives – I rarely use a paintbrush so if my large box of knives was removed I would be lost
Pastel Border is very different in treatment to Windy Border and Busy Border where the viewer is immersed in a riot of colour, the border and flowers taking up the entirety of the canvass. Can you explain more about this work your inspiration and treatment of this subject?
I try to capture brief glimpses of gardens and especially flowers, if you imagine being in a car as you drive through a town or village, its possible only to take a brief glance at a garden…when that happens you come away with an impression of what you glimpsed – that was the case for me with Pastel Border, I tried to remember the shapes and colours and filled the canvas with those memories.
The majority of your works on Art Gallery SW are painted in acrylic. Is this your preferred medium?
I have tried a variety of mediums and sometimes I combine them in a painting. I guess I really like acrylics because they respond well to being applied by knife and they dry quickly too. I am currently using oils as I am working on commissioned landscapes and portraits and I like the way oil works in this type of work
What other mediums do you use?
As I have mentioned earlier, oils, acrylic pens, torn paper, Brusho, oil pastel, ink…coffee and tea and other ‘natural’ colours.
Your work has a real immediacy and vibrancy, as if it were painted outdoors ‘en plein air’. Can you tell us more about how you develop an idea and if you work straight from life or from preparatory sketches?
I love flowers and plants so much that I can remember the detail of colour, shape and texture that belongs to each of my favourite plants. I actually remember individual plants that I see in the local woods, where they grow, when they are next due to be in flower…this level of detail cane from my Paternal grandmother who would walk with me along hedgerows and point out for example that the violet patch hadn’t expanded much this year or there were more snowdrops than last year. I can even tell you all about a cacti plant in the garden of my favourite Spanish artist Cesar Manrique. I actually greet it each time I visit – does that make me sound bonkers?
As a teacher and artist, what is the most important advice for a student starting to paint?
To really look at the world around them, to really look at the shapes, colours and subtle tones of whatever their subject is. Many people walk past things and don’t notice for example, how a petal fallen from a flower has been captured by another plant lower down and is resting on a leaf where the combination of the petal and the leaf colour makes a great ‘mini’ work of art.
To enjoy the experience of applying a medium to a surface, the texture and feel of the paint or charcoal etc
To create what makes them happy
And finally to read ‘Playing to the Gallery’ by Grayson Perry
What would you like the viewer to gain from your work?
People often say my floral work make them happy – that’s good enough for me!