Artist Strong: Today we welcome Alison Jardine on Artist Strong. Welcome Alison and thank you for your time today! How would you describe your artwork to our readers?
My desire to create is rooted in my sense of connection to nature, as a place in which the events of our lives are acted out. The light that falls into nature and illuminates it provides the sense of movement and spirit that I am looking to express. I primarily work in oils on canvasses that I make myself, because it is important to me that all my supplies feel correct to me, and are as thoroughly ‘me’ as possible.
I like to take representational images and push them as far into abstraction as I can, while retaining a recognisible impression. I’ve sometimes described this as looking for a universal pictorial language. If you looked at my paintings you would see large areas of swooping, moving colors, layered, translucent, with bright light as negative space breaking through.
Carrie: Can you walk us through how you develop/create an artwork?
My experience starts with the accumulation of overlapping experiences in nature. I walk in the woods almost every day, and I immerse myself in it. I will often listen to music, at the moment Debussy.
This is the irrational instinctive part of my work, and it is balanced by how I develop my work in my studio, in which I work from photographs and films that I take.
These mediate my experiences, and add a metaphorical human filter. I create my artworks in a process that is based on how we as people create our memories.
I describe my process as “Art in the Machine,” as I photograph the first painting and run a series of digital manipulations on it. This image then forms the basis of the next painting. After completing it, I photograph it and again run it through my ‘machine’. In this way, the images move towards an entropic loss of data, and become unattached floating, pale colors, all the way from having started as a representational image.
Some of the problems that I work on during this are that the paint just has its own voice and way of speaking that inevitably changes what is possible. It is an exploration of the difference in the way we can create digitally, and in oil paints. And also, why I would choose one or the other.
This has lead me to some arresting images that I simply wouldn’t have thought of on my own, without my Machine.
Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?
It is crucial. I don’t know how common this is, but if my emotional state is not ‘centered’ and confident, then the art I create is rarely the work that I want to see.
This can be interesting, but I have yet to successfully harness the ‘bad’ moods. It’s just not what I want to put into the world, at least not in the form it currently emerges. It’s trickier for me because as a person I’ve gone from the first half of my life that was a journey from ‘bad’ to ‘good,’ and now I like the good and it is a reason for hope, and it is this that I want to tell people about. We have doom and gloom aplenty in the world, and endless narratives of how the bad the future will be. I’m tired of this and want to present utopias. Maybe I’ll write a fiction book that tells of the brilliant future where everything gets resolved! I think of my paintings as presenting a fundamental beauty that is reason enough for our lives.
Carrie: How do you know when an artwork is finished?
I know when there is nothing more I can do to it, without redoing the whole thing. I also feel that I detach from it, and want to move on. The painting really continues onto the next work, because the work is really in my head and heart as an artist. The distinction between paintings is only necessitated by the edges of the canvasses.
Carrie: What has been one obstacle in your career as artist and how do you/did you navigate it?
It’s really hard to get noticed if you have, as I have, moved from your own society into one that is totally unfamiliar. This is where social media has saved me. I’ve been able to put myself out there almost from day one of my commitment to art, and connect with other artists, and also to get noticed. It’s an unconvential approach to success in the artworld, but it was the only way that was available to me so I embraced it as much as possible.
There is a perception that there is a ‘correct’ path to walk to success, but guess what? It’s not the path my feet have been set on, so I have to navigate as best I can. I try not to compare myself to other people, because interviews and articles rarely tell the whole story (I realise this is an ironic thing to write in an interview, but I promise that I have tried to buck this trend and communicate my own reality as honestly as I can!).
Carrie: Do you use goal-setting in your career as an artist? How so?
Yes I do. It is crucial to keep myself on track. I have a ten-year idea of where I could get, and within that I set goals for each year. It is how I can remember what option to choose and where to put my energy and resources. As the year progresses, it always gets hair-raisingly busy, so without this ‘theme’ for the year, and these goals, I would probably end up spinning in circles. I am also very very careful to choose things I could actually conceivably achieve. It’s not going to work to write ‘exhibit at MOMA in NY.’ Things like that may be something you imagine in 50 years, but it is fantasy. Your goals must be chewable and concrete, and must form a progression into the area you want to end up.
For me, it is about getting myself to a place where I can create the kind of work I want to make to the full extent of my ideas and talent, and have it be appreciated.
Carrie: How much do you feel social media is important to marketing yourself and your work?
Extremely, but it’s not just ‘marketing’ myself. I’ve found so many great opportunities on Twitter in particular, and I’ve connected with businesses and individuals that have enriched my career literally and also emotionally.
Twitter is my favorite, over FB or the image-sharing sites, because I’ve been able to reach 60,000 people who enjoy looking at art. I try to make sure that I ‘give’ to this community, rather than just reading, because original content producers are the oil and gears of this new economy.
Carrie: What advice would you give to artists just starting out?
Don’t think too much, just create. After five years you’ll have an idea of what kind of artist you are. Keep being prepared to acknowledge that you need to change.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
I like to visit exhibits, read books (not necessarily art books) and also to find some beautiful wilderness. I think back to when I was a kid, and all the painfully beautiful yearnings I had for something better, something loving. All this refuels me. To fill up my ‘creative pool’ inside me, I also need breaks from actually creating, and spend time thinking.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Carrie: How do you define creativity?
It is the ability to connect disparate elements, and it occurs in all industries and activities.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: How do you use goal-setting to help yourself develop and grow as an artist? Be inspired, remember Alison’s strategies and don’t forget to check out her website!
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