February’s Featured Artist – Elaine Almond
What’s your background?
I was born in London and now live in West Kent. I am an abstract artist, painting mainly in oils and acrylics, and a part-time lay minister. For many years my canvas was the garden, moving around and designing one everywhere we lived! I sketched on holiday and took countless photos, but I only started painting in 2008, when I was unwell. I left a career in the health service (I had been a nurse, and later, a psychotherapist) and have painted continuously since. I joined a local group, undertook short and longer painting courses, including a three-month oil and a six-month abstract course in 2016/7, and was mentored by Caroline Hulse FRSA. I was shortlisted in the National Open Art Competition 2017. I exhibit locally, around the south east and at national art fairs. For a full biography, see my website (link below).
Which media do you prefer to work with?
My first love is acrylics as I began with that medium on fairly large canvases and later spent some time learning about oil painting. I do experiment with different ways of painting on paper and board as well as canvas. I am also working on smaller canvases, too, which doesn’t come naturally.
Do you work in multiple media?
From time to time but not consistently – adding texture with media, paper or seeds from the garden for example.
What does your work aim to say?
I am inspired by nature, life experience and the journeys we make, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. I love colour and seek to reflect both the darker places and the joys we experience in life in my work. I call them inner and outer landscapes which people can relate to. People will (and do) take their own messages from the work – there are a few testimonials on my website. I often visit the south coast and I love to paint seascapes, too.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
Indirectly. Our feelings change depending on our environment. From time to time, I paint something deliberately political/social and I’m currently waiting to hear about an Open Call. I think art can relate to life in whatever way the artist chooses.
Who are your biggest influences?
I am in awe of Vermeer; Rembrandt’s portraits showing the emotions in the faces; Turner; Monet and the Impressionists. Abstract Expressionism looking at the freedom of form and use of colour. Whilst I find Rothko’s paintings difficult to contemplate, I relate to his comment about expressing emotion through art rather than illustrating it. Kandinsky for the development of abstraction and his consciously spiritual dimension to art. Rothko, Gerhardt Richter, Mondrian, Hockney and Caroline Hulse who taught me so much and encouraged me to exhibit and enter a national competition, which was a game changer for me. I worked in Peru years ago and love cultural art from the Inca and Moche dynasties – primitive and yet sophisticated.
How have you developed your career?
It began as a long-held desire to paint and developed from a hobby to more. To enable that, I have joined up with other artists locally, online (Connected Artist Club), undertaken courses (see above) and tried things out. I have sold work locally for the past eight years, entered my first national art fair in 2018, organised and curated local exhibitions including a couple of solo and joint shows and South East Open Studios.
I joined Ginger Cactus Art in 2020 as a collaboration with other artists. I have run a local art group for the past year, continuing online due to Covid-19. In 2020, my paintings were chosen for two Open Call exhibitions (Peckham and Tonbridge), and I was able to take part in two exhibitions (Rye and Chichester).
I also belong to the Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum (www.svaf.co.uk ), which normally meets monthly, but opportunities are featured in the monthly newsletter meantime.
How do you seek out opportunities?
Through artists colleagues, online – Curator Space, SVAF, Art Fair Buddies – and local knowledge of regular events.
How do you cultivate a collector base?
I am active on Facebook & Instagram, collect names and emails of interested people locally and at art events where possible, send a regular newsletter every four-six weeks, and have gathered some interest with a few ads on social media. I have a stand at local events sometimes to increase interest.
How do you navigate the art world?
My immediate response is ‘with difficulty’! There is so much happening but I visit exhibitions (normally) in London -Tate Britain and Modern, RA & others – for inspiration and to see what is developing. I can only paint what comes to me, but I learn from others.
How do you price your work? By size, using one of numerous formulae available.
Which current art world trends are you following?
I’m interested in the development of contemporary abstract realism, and abstraction in general.
Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?
Just to spend time on the art that you love; keep going and don’t worry too much about things not being exact or perfect as your work develops. This was the major concern of one young artist who visited my studio with her mum. Connect with other like-minded people, too.
Where can people see your art? Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
It all depends on the Covid-19 restrictions, but provisionally…
13-26 April: Solo exhibition at the Red Door Alchemist Gallery, Rye, East Sussex
6-9 May, stand at the biennial Wrotham Arts Festival, Wrotham, West Kent. This would be my fourth time exhibiting there, just a mile from home, now cancelled until 2022.
4 -20th June: South East Open Studios, based at home.
Where can you be found on social media?