Hi Naomi, how long have you been an artist?
I have always been artistic, either drawing, designing or crafting. It was an intuitive moment the day I realised I needed to be a painter, but it wasn’t until a few years after, just before I became a mum, that I left work and started making plans for what I could do from home. To start with, I found a way to have my artworks printed on home wares and opened up an online shop. After my initial stint of new mum hibernation, I started taking my wares to local markets. From there I was approached more and more for original artworks rather than prints and eventually I was offered my first gallery exhibition. That was roughly 4 years ago.
How do you manage working on your art and being a mum?
It is always a challenge but what seems to work for me is allocating specific times each week for work, for my son and for myself as appropriately as possible in the given schedule, and then consciously making the most of each time slot without compromising another. I give myself plenty to do each week without overloading and spread my appointments out so there’s some flexibility to shuffle tasks around.
Tell us a little bit about your art…
Mostly, I create large-scale contemporary artworks on canvas that are dripping with colour and texture, primarily using acrylics with hints of industrial mediums such as renders, lacquers, enamels and suedes on canvas, board and paper. Naturally gravitating towards abstraction, I enjoy the freedom of allowing the artwork to evolve through feeling, changing directions from the original vision, and keeping the imagery minimalistic amongst the thick layering.
I am inspired by the events and sights in my everyday life and invite my viewers to observe and connect with my images while discovering their own interpretations within the work. So far, I have participated in one solo and twelve group gallery exhibitions, as well as having displays in restaurant and retail venues, and attending artists markets and festivals through the year.
You’re about to embark on a journey to Finland with your son for an artist’s residency. How did you find out about such an opportunity? Well, I started researching artist residencies through the Australian Arts Council and Finland was one of three residencies where children were allowed to accompany the artist. It appealed to me because of the vast difference in climate, environment and culture from what I know in Australia. After making some calls though, it became clear that I would not be able to choose when we went. With my son being in his first year of school and wanting the experience of a real winter, I decided to plan a self-organised residency instead. A whole lot of research and proposals to residency organisations and galleries later, I found myself a studio to stay with and signed a gallery contract.
How does an artist’s residency work? It depends on where you go, some organisations only provide accommodation, some have a studio space for artists to use as well. Some are free, some will pay a small allowance and some you have to pay for accommodation but far less than if you were in a hotel. Some will ask for the artist to donate artwork or their time by running a workshop as part of the deal. It is very individual. I’m participating in a residency with low-cost accommodation, studio access and have volunteered some time and artwork.
How long will you be staying? Three weeks in residency and five weeks all up, which just squeezes into the Queensland school holidays, with a few days either side.
How will you manage having your son with you while you’re there? The two of us will work as a team as well as we can, which pretty much sums up how we are in life, really. He’ll be five and a half by then and when he isn’t running amok with kids his age or acting like his favourite super hero characters, he’s a very independent child, a terrific little helper and involves himself in a lot of the decision-making. It’s going to be a real treat for us to take some time away from work and the everyday routine while we are there, and during times when we are at the studio or gallery he will make himself at home, either participating in the group activities or confidently working the room, he is totally in his element in these environments now and it’s not unusual for him to strike up a conversation with people about mummy’s artwork.
What are you most looking forward to about your trip? The exhibition and artist residency will provide an opportunity to execute my goal of networking and collaborating with international arts practitioners and curators. During the opening night of the exhibition we will be having an artwork exchange between Brisbane and Helsinki artists and guests, which will promote many of my local artistic friends as I make new ones internationally. My son is very much looking forward to seeing Santa’s Village in the Arctic Circle and I have my fingers crossed that we will witness the northern lights.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge, and how will you manage it? There are two that have been playing on my mind. Firstly, packing for winter for two people when only one of us can carry everything. We will be moving between cities and catching public transport to explore as much on Finland as we can during our free time, so I am looking for a large backpack with wheels, that I’ll be able to carry when I need my hands free but also be able to roll when it gets too heavy. The other concern is making sure we fill our free days with exciting things that suit both our tastes, the last thing I want is a bored 5-year-old. In my itinerary I have made sure our days visiting museums are followed by a trip to a water park or zoo for example, and every location has a few back up plans just in case.
Do you have any advice for any solo mum’s who’d like to move their artistic hobby into a career? Good planning! Being creative usually means lots and lots of ideas, so make sure you write them all down. No two careers or individuals are ever going to be the same, but for me, organising my goals to start off small with minimal financial (and emotional) outlay and adding new services, products and events step by step as I felt ready has allowed me to personally grow within my business and given me the confidence to achieve bigger outcomes as my work has become more recognised. You really just have to put your work out into the world, take control of your dreams and do what feels right for you at the time.
Where can we see more of your work? My latest work for my next gallery solo that’s coming up in January 2015 at Jade Gallery – Helsinki, Finland will display new and innovative media techniques that combine science and art – this work will create a unique structure which can hold its form and be displayed either on its own, adhered to rag paper, traditionally framed, cut and collaged or layered and sculptured into 3D work. The ultra shiny smooth finishes, possibility of no support and seamlessly blended colours and patterns will beg the audience to ask how the work was made.
An opportunity to preview the first prototypes for this show is available at my Meet The Artist Evening coming up on the 28th August (yes, that’s tomorrow night!) in Brisbane’s south.
You can also see some of my work on Facebook, my Instagram page or on Tumblr