First up, here's a big thank you to the ARTbound Community for letting me become an active part in something that I feel really strongly about: the opportunity to connect the audience with the artist in a more informal and intimate way. I'm an artist, I love the creative process and I find value in the mistakes, happy accidents and learning curves that lead to a beautiful piece of art. I also find it a shame that this experience isn't usually shared outside of the studio.
The art world is full of finished pieces and final drafts that seem to create a barrier between the artist who made it and those viewing. There have been countless times where I have found an artist I love and can only find finished pieces and their titles, no sketches, no extra information, no insight into that wondrous creative process! I felt instantly disconnected.
Through this blog I will be exploring behind the scenes in the creative world with artist interviews, photos of works in progress and also documenting some of the many upcoming events the ARTbound Community have planned.
The Tra-Digital exhibition is in collaboration with Creative Calderdale and explores art in the digital world. The opening night features a one-off showing of 'Made You Look' by London based collective 'Look and Yes', which is a documentary film focussing on the creativity within the UK digital art scene. To buy tickets to the opening event and film screening (with pizza and beverages included!), head over to the event page.
Artist Interview: Abigail Leigh
Here I'm going to ask myself similar questions I would ask when interviewing other artists so you can get to know me and my art a little better, and also to show you what to expect in upcoming posts. Please comment if you have any questions you would like to ask a practising artist!
How would you describe your practise? How did your work develop into what it is now?
I am a watercolour painter but I also enjoy creating sculptures.
I began by drawing pencil portraits and charging a pittance for them! Influenced by other artists' work, I started to experiment with watercolour with the aim of creating emotive ghostly pieces, but I was never truly happy with how any portraits turned out - there was always something 'off' about them, especially in the skin. I began to develop my technique and through an influx of pet portrait commissions, I found that combining fine pen sketches (from drawing the fur!) with the watercolour on top produced much more detailed pieces while still retaining that special 'fluidity' of watercolour.
From there, it was always a matter of practising to perfection, a journey which will never end!
My sculptures were created at University, where I had a whole workshop and studio space to work with, rather than my kitchen or spare room. Having always been interested in nature and humans as animals, I was/am constantly searching for visual metaphors highlighting the natural presence in human lives, especially now that we are saturated in the digital age. (This is also what I based my dissertation on, something which I enjoyed writing immensely!)
Resin was the foundation of my sculpting journey, having seen other artists painting on the glass clear surface and layering more resin on top. I began experimenting in the workshops and over the course of the year, ended with clear sculptures of brains and hearts, which I had then grown white crystals on the surface. This little bit of unpredictable live nature in my work always excites me!
What is your experience of the creative process?
In the beginning, I was easily frustrated when painting, as usually it wouldn't be going how I had imagined: the paper quality might have been poor so it curled and tore; the watercolours would be too wet and get too muddy and wash itself out, and details were always hard to define.
As I have developed creatively (understanding materials and paper weight, refining techniques and discovering tricks, and simply improving through practise) I have also developed personally in that I simply trust myself, whereas before I was constantly criticising myself and beating myself up from start to finish. Now I know that it will just work out, because I have always managed to pull it off before, so I just leave myself to the process and trust that it will eventually look good. This way is a lot more stress free!
Do you have any 'behind-the-scenes' photos?
I always document throughout each piece, purely out of habit. I will take photos at the main stages throughout a piece, when I begin sketching with the pen, when all the pen is complete, and various times in between colour application. I just love to look back and see it develop, and I definitely love to see other artists' step-by-steps and progress shots, too.
So, what next?
I am currently working on large scale pieces, something which I am beyond excited about. Until recently, the largest I could draw was A2 and that just wasn't big enough; I wanted to create pieces that was so big it would make you stop and look. So I bought a roll of watercolour paper at 1.5 x 10m and am already working on my first big piece.
When I feel I have a good enough, strong portfolio, I am planning on submitting my art to art publishing houses and hopefully supply galleries around the UK, though worldwide and the opportunity to travel with my art is the dream.