At Little Van Gogh, we’re proud to have over 100 artists in our catalogue, between them spanning many styles and media. We exhibit their work in office spaces all over the UK, regularly bringing it to new audiences and new venues. But what happens behind the scenes of the creative process?
Despite their very different styles, there’s one reason to paint that they all have in common –an underlying sense of freedom that comes from being an artist.
“Simply loving to paint it is the biggest motivator for me,” says Katherine, who creates bold floral compositions. “I started by painting for myself and found my style partly from my textile design studies, where the focus was on florals and abstracts.”
All three artists paint at home, having converted rooms in their houses to create studio space. “I always have music playing or the radio on - though nothing too distracting!” says Katherine, who has converted a bedroom into her studio. “I’m surrounded by all of my ideas and art reference books which helps to make it a creative space.”
At the centre of Georgina’s spare-room studio is the reclaimed architect’s desk that she uses as her main workspace, surrounded by other artists’ work for inspiration, while John has made his living room into his studio.
“I’m usually working on three or four paintings at once,” says John, who uses a variety of media, including pastel, oil and acrylic, to create art inspired predominately by Scottish landscapes he explores while hillwalking and kayaking. “Having a few pieces on the go keeps things moving, and it also helps to have ideas for the different pieces bounce off each other.”
Evolving inspirations and styles
A sense of their personal style evolving over time is something all three artists experience. New inspiration comes from many directions; John is developing artwork based on illustrated books of fables and parables, Katherine curates visual inspiration including magazine cuttings, photos and photocopies on a wall in her studio, and Georgina takes nature and cloud formations as her cue for her abstract landscapes.
“I live in Biddulph Moor in Staffordshire, which is high up and has the most beautiful skies,” Georgina says. “I only need to go out for a walk to get inspiration – and I even find it from just looking at the garden. As I mainly work from memory, I’ll then go back to my studio, sit down, mix paint and let the piece develop on the canvas.”
Setting aside time away from distractions is key to being productive and creative for all three artists. “I make time to paint,” says John. “I do have the attitude that ‘this is my 2 hours’ and I close the door.”
Georgina, as a busy mother of two young boys, arranges her daily schedule to fit in time to paint. “Painting is a joy,” she says, “but I treat it like a job, and I’m quite strict with our daily routine to make sure I have time to go into the studio every evening.”
A personal process
Every artist’s approach is different, but John’s method when creating a new piece of work involves starting small. “I’ve learnt to not go too big,” he says. “Planning is important for me – sketch notes, colour notes – and I prefer to keep it to a smaller and more manageable scale at first.” For Katherine, it’s more about painting in a bold and open way: “I always want to be doing something, and for me, painting is almost a habit that I do all the time.”
Reaching a plateau or an artistic dry period is something that all three artists encounter and handle in different ways. “I just keep going and trust that it’ll work out in the end. It’s important not to give up – even if you think you’re making a mess,” Katherine says. John recommends taking a seeking inspiration elsewhere, while Georgina’s solution is a classic cure-all – shutting the studio door, taking a break and getting plenty of sleep.
When it comes to knowing when a painting is complete, a sixth sense kicks in. “It’s very odd,” says Georgina. “I suddenly just know when a painting’s done. I sometimes return to it for a few final brushstrokes and then that’s it.” John agrees: “The whole process really involved making lots of tiny moves in sequence to reach a final point. I know a piece is finished when I get a sense of completion and wholeness, and when a unity and balance come out of the painting.”
Beyond the fulfilment of creating the artwork itself, the benefits of being a painter run deep in the artists’ psyches. For Katherine, this comes at the point of showing her work. “It really represents an end point and it’s so satisfying when your art is appreciated by other people.”
“It’s about being able to be honest to yourself – my art is about who I am,” says John. Georgina agrees: “There’s a freedom in creating art, with nobody to answer to but yourself. It’s really wonderful.”
If you’re an artist interested in joining our catalogue, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org