Christy Ku talks to Emily McIndoe, a first year English student and freelance artist whose main focus is painting, paper-cutting and illustrations, utilising her interest in literature. She chats with her about her inspirations, her work and why she loves what she does:
So, let’s begin at the beginning. How did you start? Is art something you’ve always loved?
Yes, it’s always been a big part of my life – I come from quite a creative family so I’ve always been encouraged to experiment and have fun with it. I did art all through school and took a foundation diploma during my gap year, so it’s something I’ve just always done, to be honest, because I enjoy it so much.
What are your favourite mediums?
I really like painting, particularly oils, the colours are really vivid and you can get really beautiful detail with it. But, biro is great for quicker compositions, I normally have a sketchbook and pen on me just in case I see something interesting so I can doodle. Paper-cutting is great too, particularly for when I’m making books.
Who inspires you?
Depends on the area, but for paper-cutting and book art, I love Su Blackwell and Rob Ryan – their work is really gorgeous and I love the intricacy of it. For painting, I really admire a lot of the classical artists such as Caravaggio and da Vinci for the strength and energy in their figures and the way they use light. I like a lot of modern artists too though. For instance, there is an artist called Sean Cheetham who I looked at in school, who does amazing oil paintings which just look really rich and vital.
So is that what you look for in art – strength, vitality, and energy?
Yeah – generally, I like contrast in tone; whether that’s with a wide spectrum of colour or just using black and white. I think it makes the composition a lot more dramatic and bold and gives it a bit more life. I do really admire artists with a more subtle approach, for instance my sister is fantastic at watercolour, but I guess I’m just a little too heavy-handed with paint because I’ve never really been able to work in that style.
And how would you describe your style?
I’m not sure – I like detail but I prefer it when you can see the tool marks with my art; I guess you could say I like the imperfections of it because I think it gives the piece a bit more energy.
What drew you to paper-cutting?
During college we had a few weeks where we were allowed to pick sessions to try, before we chose an area of interest for our projects later on in the year. I love books and literature, so I decided to try illustration, and that was one of the techniques we were taught. As long as you don’t accidentally rip it (which has happened, a lot… it’s very frustrating), you can get really lovely detail, and they’re really interesting to photograph if you play around with light. Because it’s all done by hand as well, there is a slight imperfection to the patterns you create; they don’t have perfect symmetry, but I think that just makes them even more interesting.
How do you get ideas?
I do a bit of illustration, so I look at descriptions in books for some work to try and get it as accurate as possible. With the books, I like to draw plans, to try and work out the mechanics of them; and that tends to just be experimentation. I’ll sit down with a piece of paper and just start experimenting – either playing around with folding it or drawing little sketches of how it will all come together. Also, just people, generally. Everyone is unique so I like to try and show an element of their personality in the paintings. I tend to paint people I know and have spoken to a lot, so that really helps.
Is that what you love about art? Being able to capture part of people’s personalities?
Yes I think so; personality is a big part of it. I think (for me) you need to be able to connect to what you see; it needs to be emotive to a certain extent. I prefer it if you can catch a person when they’re just acting naturally and it isn’t staged or posed, it’s just more interesting. In terms of what I love about art, I think it’s just how open-ended it is. You can literally do anything which is really inspiring. You can just experiment and play with it.
Emily’s work is available online at emilymcindoe.blogspot.co.uk and she is accepting commissions.
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