Featured Artist – Me! Alison G Saunders

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, the two people who were scheduled to appear as my featured artists for March and April are unable to take part. I hope their circumstances greatly improve for them soon and that you will be able to read about them later this year. For this month, at my editor’s suggestion, I am answering my own questions about my own art. I hope you will find it interesting.

What is your name or the name you go by for your art?

Alison G Saunders

Where do you live?

Newdigate, Surrey

What’s your background?

My parents were both artists, so I decided to be an accountant instead. I hated the competition. I always dabbled in art but not so that they could see or have the opportunity to criticise what I had made. It was only when my husband’s job took us to the USA, and I had all that distance between us that I felt comfortable exploring art again. I had a fantastic teacher who encouraged me so when I returned to the UK, I took a foundation course in art and design and then embarked on a BA in art. Having become comfortable exhibiting work in the USA, exhibiting here was just a natural progression from that so I have continued to do so while taking my BA.

Which media do you prefer to work with?

I don’t really have a preference as I enjoy mixing up the different things I use but I tend to use acrylic paints and inks the most as they are so versatile. As a print maker I use acrylic and oil printer’s paints. In my works on paper, I use acrylic paints and inks, watercolour paints, soft pastels, and sometimes collage. As a book maker (I make leather journals), I use artworks I’ve made on paper that I am not entirely happy with but like parts of as the inside covers. I have dabbled with encaustic wax, which is great fun, and I really enjoy covering my completed works with resin, although I haven’t been able to do that for a while as I haven’t had a studio space to work in.

How did you learn your craft i.e. college, self-taught and what did that entail?

I have learned all I know by listening to others with more knowledge and experience than me, be that watching my parents as a child, taking classes with amazing teachers, being at university, taking online courses or watching videos on YouTube. Chatting to other artists about what they do and how they do it has given me a huge bank of knowledge which I am able to call on when needed.

What does your work aim to say?

First and foremost, my work is about my love of colour. I like to work in layers of colour, allowing bits to sneak through to set up interesting juxtapositions between colours and the connections I feel towards colour and the world around me. Included in that is the use of circles, which to me represent hugs, and lines which are the connections between the hugs. I use blocks of colour which complement each other, or not, as the basis of those connections.

Does your work comment on current social or political issues?

In a way, yes. I feel that the lack of kindness in our society is very frightening and giving people love and support through hugs is my way of helping the people I know be strong enough to face the world. I hope that my art makes the viewer take a deep breath and think, “I’ve got this”, as they step out into a society which is often very unforgiving.

Who are your biggest influences?

There are so many: Rembrandt; Sorolla; Singer Sargent; Andy Goldsworthy; Klimt; Alexander Calder; Norman Ackroyd etc. etc.

How do you navigate the art world?

I am not sure that I do it that well. In the main I have focused on those around me or at a similar level to me. I don’t necessarily look at ‘names’ emerging onto the art stage.

Their work is often too conceptual for my tastes, so I look at and listen to people whose work I enjoy and learn from them to take my own work to the next stage.

How have you developed your career?

I have listened to those ahead of me in the artworld and observed how they have achieved their position and tried to emulate that. I have invested in a few big art shows, and I have continued to teach, which is a wonderful way to really understand your own work.

How do you seek out opportunities?

I talk to people, and I listen to people. I take notes because my memory is not great, and I rarely say no to an opportunity to take part in an exhibition. By always being open to opportunities like this I often find that they will find me.

How do you cultivate a collector base?

This is an area I need to look at again. Until the pandemic I had a few faithful clients who would support me by attending exhibitions and purchasing my work. I lost a number of those clients to Covid-19 and I haven’t worked at finding new ones yet.

How do you price your work?

Generally, I charge by the square inch or centimetre but there are times when I don’t feel this works so I increase or lower my prices accordingly.

Which current art world trends are you following?

Other than being aware of what is going on, I tend not to follow trends, or should I say I don’t let trends influence the work I am making. However, I am open to looking at everything I can and find that YouTube and Instagram are fantastic tools for discovering new artworks.

Do you know where you are heading career wise?

Not unlike the art I make, I don’t know where I am heading exactly but I just want to keep making my art and finding people who want that art in their lives.

What are your hopes for your future?

I am fortunate that I am having a wonderful studio space currently being built. Once that’s done, I hope to be able not only to make work more easily but also share that space with other artists, either through me running classes or simply having painting sessions together.

Do you have any area of your art world you want to share?

I do. I run a group called Ginger Cactus Art. We have a presence on Facebook and Instagram plus we have a website which we advertise to increase awareness of the members’ work. I also run in-person exhibitions which have thus far been in Southeast England, but we have plans for some in the Midlands and the North, too.

Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?

Listen to everything you are told, make notes, and then work out which bits align with who you are and what you can do first. Don’t give up, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough and learn to understand how advertising and marketing works. You can be the world’s leading artist but if no-one knows you exist then you will never find your audience.

Do you have any exhibitions coming up?

My next exhibition is in June when I have invited three people to join me at my home studio to take part in the Surrey Artists Open Studio annual event. This year, because of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Open Studio starts on 11th June and runs until 26th June. We will be opening every day from 10am – 5pm with full details of all artists taking part on the Surrey Artists Open Studio website. For more details about me and how you can find me, please do get in touch.

Where can you be found on social media?

Facebook –   https://www.facebook.com/AlisonGSaunders

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/alisongsaunders/

Website –    www.alisongsaunders.art

I am also on Twitter and LinkedIn under the same name.

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