Instead of a dry/conventional “About” page, I thought this interview with Ainslie Young (http://startingwitha.com ) would be a much more interesting way for you to learn more about me and my work. Enjoy!
You describe yourself as a ‘compulsive creative.’ When did you become aware of your own creative flair and when did you start painting?
I had a fairly “free range” childhood. My parents were creative and ambitious in their own ways and they resisted many mainstream ideas. From them I learnt to question everything and to analyse the world around me.
Growing up my four brothers and I enjoyed the quintessentially Australian kind of childhood that I don’t know is possible any more. We spent much of our spare time exploring the surrounds of our country towns. We followed rivers and they fished, while I built stick forts and rock gardens and drew designs in the dirt.
My oldest brother was quite the rebel. He tagged his name whenever he could get away with it and was enthralled with the graffiti on the trains that came through town. He taught me bubble writing and shadow writing and encouraged my art in a way only an older sibling can. He’s very proud of my MURAL work these days.
Others also championed my creative endeavours and a memorable teacher once entered my work into an International Art Award for a painting of a geometric Giraffe named Kelly, which I won a People’s Choice award for. I remember being popular at school for a while after that and the taste of success was sweet, even as an eight year old.
We had a variety of schooling and my family travelled and moved around a lot, until we eventually settled in the Northern Territory. There I observed how painting was part of everyday life for many indigenous artists and that had a big impact on how I went about making art in my adult life.
The older I got the more I relied on my artistic identity to get me though. By the time I was a young adult, being an artist was already part of my identity and something I wanted to do with my life.
Your paintings are distinct and striking and you’ve said that you’re drawn to architectural forms, geometric shapes and structured patterns. Where do you draw inspiration from?
As a small child, my earliest memories are being drawn to mosaics and stained glass windows. I found them incredibly beautiful. So, my attraction to a kind of ordered aesthetic has been present in my life for as long as I can remember.
I am fascinated by the fact that structures, shapes and forms (all the things you mention above), can be used metaphorically to tell stories, to evoke emotions and to embody human experiences, as powerfully as words can. I’m always looking around me for new “material” for my work and often thinking how can I present life experiences in a new light.
I love to travel whenever I can because new surroundings and places seem to light up my brain and inspire me like nothing else does. I don’t overly plan my paintings and so I’m often surprised at what I have made work about. It’s often a way of me dealing with things I’m working through or my observations of life.
How do you want your clients to feel when they see your work for the first time? What emotions do your paintings evoke?
I aim to make art that is relatable and easily understood. It’s important to me that the viewer can see themselves or parts of their story in my paintings, and for them to feel that this is art they can become attached to. I want it to become theirs just as much as it is mine.
People who buy my paintings generally do so because they value having something that lasts and that can be handed down to their children. It sounds cliché, but it’s true that my work is painted stroke by stroke with love and that this sits in contrast in a world so full of commercial, mass made “clutter.”
As a child we moved often, so we didn’t own many possessions. My grandmother was a fine painter and her paintings made new environments feel warm and familiar in a way that other things could not. I can still close my eyes and see every one of those artworks.
I want people to become attached to and sentimental about my paintings, as they become part of their day-to-day visual life story.
You exhibited in New York and recently worked in Hong Kong. How does travel influence your work?
I’ve always lived in rural Australia and have had to be proactive in finding an audience for my work. For the last seven years, I’ve lived in Western Victoria, which is roughly a four-hour drive from Melbourne. This feels close compared to when I lived in Katherine in the Top End of Australia!
I regularly travel to Melbourne and Sydney, seeking creative opportunities and to meet with people in the industry. I have always felt an outsider of sorts in the Australian Art Market and I need to go further afield to prove myself and find my niche artistically. So I’m always looking for opportunities overseas.
In 2013 I exhibited at an Art Fair in New York. This was no easy feat but I learnt so much from the experience and made some great friends there. With a young family though (my youngest just turned three) I felt like a closer international market would be more achievable for me and so I plan to establish myself in Hong Kong and China over the next few years. I spent some time there earlier this year and I’m working with an agent to make that happen. I really liked the vibe and feel of Hong Kong and I felt my work was well received. Look out 2018!
In addition to being a successful artist and a published author, you’re also a mother of five! How has being a mum benefited your career?
I got married at 17 and had my oldest daughter when I was 18. I now have five children – 21, 18, 8, 6 and 3. So I have a number of years experience juggling my two great loves, parenting and painting.
I have read many great books by others on the subject, but I felt there was a gap in the market and no one was telling me on a practical level what their days looked like and how they actually got anything done!
So I wrote “THERE IS A PAINTBRUSH IN MY COFFEE” to share my own experiences and what has worked for me as a creative parent. The book has been a wonderful way for me to connect with others who are navigating this sometimes confronting and difficult territory.
For me, being a parent has greatly benefitted my career, because by looking after my family I’m also looking after myself. I’m very driven and my children keep me grounded and focused. They provide a kind of balance to my life and their needs and the limits they put on what I can do, make me hone my focus and do only what is most important creatively. That’s not to say that the sacrifice at times doesn’t feel hard but the rewards of having my children in my life far outweigh any cost.
You always have so many creative and interesting projects and collaborations on the go. What type of projects light you up and what projects do you love working on?
I recently designed a Food Truck for “Royal Stacks.” They are now open in China and are expanding their business elsewhere. I really enjoyed this kind of “corporate” creativity and it has bought another aspect to my work. The truck was developed in conjunction with an app giving it 3D capabilities so the opportunity to work creatively with new technology was exciting for me.
Over the last few years I’ve also been painting murals which are a wonderful way of working with other people compared to my usual solo studio work. One of my favourite collaborations has been with the Hong Kong based paint brand Eico Paint when I painted a mural in their Head Quarters as part of the HKwalls and Hong Kong Art Week earlier this year.
I’ve also been involved in putting together several community mural projects and these are a great way of bringing people together and something I also thoroughly enjoy being a part of. (LINK TO RELEVANT PAGE).
What’s been the best compliment you’ve received about your work?
The best compliment is when someone puts their money where their mouth is and buys the work!
Every artist will tell you that there is no higher form of praise or appreciation than that and I have a soft spot ever after, for people who invest in my work. Because without them I would not be doing what I do! I am truly grateful to my patrons.
Apart from your kids, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What keeps you going as a successful creative, balancing your career, family and life?
Having kids means I have no other choice but to get out of bed, ha ha!
But truthfully I have never been one to be bored and so I have an endless amount of personal projects also on the go. I grow food and keep hens and have a large garden. I’m also interested in sustainable yet practical ways of living. I love to write and read, but much of my time in reality is spent on the practicalities of running my home and family.
In my painting time I find rest and stillness an escape from the mundane and the routine aspects of day-to-day life. It’s a headspace I don’t ever tire of. I have big dreams for my art and many ideas yet to be explored creatively, so this keeps me going and keeps me energised.
What do you most love about your life?
It’s an amazing feeling to think that I can make an income sharing what I love to do with others. Honestly, I love painting so much and I’m so blessed to be able to do it every day.
I also get to work for myself (I’m a mean boss sometimes though), so if one of my kids are sick or there are other priorities, most of the time I can be available to deal with them. The flexibility of my life and the excitement of future possibilities really makes all the hard work worthwhile.
What’s next for you? What are your big visions and goals?
In the bigger picture I’m looking forward to being in Hong Kong and China and seeing what opportunities unfold there. I also have some projects in Australia in the pipeline, which I can’t wait to see how they come together.
Closer to home, I’m very grateful to have been able to fully fit out a large shed on my property as my new studio. This new space will help me continue to expand my work and will better fit my growing practice.
I really enjoy meeting people (like meeting YOU, on an international flight!), who appreciate my work. Because I love connecting with people, I’m also looking forward to some more sharing and speaking opportunities in the future. It’s a great time to be an artist and a woman.
Upcoming Exhibitions; HONG KONG in 2018.
Koskela Gallery, Rosebery, Sydney 2017.
Hamilton Regional Art Gallery, Hamilton, Victoria 2015.
Rtist Gallery, Prahran, Melbourne 2014.
Art Expo New York, New York 2013.
Hope & Co Gallery, Hamilton, Victoria 2011.
Mimosa Gallery, Glen Innes, New South Wales 2008.
Art Moment Gallery, Bondi Beach, Sydney 2006.
The June Tapp Arts Space, Katherine, Northern Territory 2004.
In addition to the above, my paintings have been shown in numerous group shows in the years I have been painting.
My artwork is regularly hung in the Scott Livesey Gallery in Melbourne.
I also exhibit with the Sydney based Sophie Vander from Curatorial and Co
I currently have work in the 19 Karen Gallery on the Gold Coast.
I am planning my next trip to Hong Kong in early 2018. For any enquires regarding my work there please get into touch with Ingrid at Style Brief Hong Kong.
In addition to my studio artworks, I am working more and more on a larger scale, painting murals and developing ideas for a range of creative applications.
Please email me directly with any questions you may have regarding artistic projects.
(Photo courtesy of Danielle Thomas)