In a bid to showcase more great art by talented artists on the blog, this month, I asked artist Beatrice Roberts to answer a few questions about her influences and inspiration, and share with us a selection of her fantastically vibrant works.
Where did your interest in art/creating begin?
When I was about 10 my family started going to a holiday camp every year and there was always some pastel portrait artists there. I would stand there for hours and hours watching people have their portraits done, while other kids went to the fairground or did crazy golf or something. I would disappear for hours to go watch them – my mum and dad would always come to the artists to find me. They knew I would be there, absolutely fascinated by the process. I then started drawing portraits of pop stars and my friends and family, and I’m still interested in portraiture and figurative art all these years later.
What is your starting point for each piece? And what is the subsequent process?
Most of my pieces start off with a monoprint. I lay down a shape in thick acrylic on perspex or paper and make a simple print onto another sheet of paper. That shape becomes my subject. I enjoy this process because it’s – perversely – out of my control. I have to work with what is there – with the print I am left with. This makes for a bit of a challenge as I have to ‘bring the work round’ into something recognisable. My animal paintings are also done this way. A large proportion of my work is produced in this manner and I never know what I am going to end up with as I rarely plan. I work spontaneously and my paintings grow organically as I am creating them. I also like to use foam shapes to print with and I often use the stick end of the brush to apply paint to the surface to give raised, impasto lines sections. I love the rawness I get with this technique.
I use a lot of bright colour in my work, which makes me happy. I build up a great depth of colour by adding several coats of acrylic and which gives a rich, jewel like appearance. I use drawing pens a lot too, adding dots, dashes and outlines with these. Oil pastels also make an appearance sometimes giving another dimension to artwork as they form a kind of ‘resistance’ which the water based paint skates over.
Who or what influences your work?
I enjoy raw art (outsider art?) mostly and I have many favourite artists who all must influence me subconsciously, in one way or another. The list would probably be too long to mention. I have been told that my work is kind of ‘edgy’ or slightly disturbing and I would sort of agree with that – I wouldn’t say my life’s been easy. I got myself into a very bad, long term situation which was incredibly difficult to get out of. I have noticed that recently themes have been coming through my work which relate to the trauma I and my children endured throughout this terrible time. I am sure that being a survivor does have an influence in what I paint and the way I paint. I am finding that being able to refer to these awful times , in my work, is helping me to heal in a way.
On a lighter note, I do tend to include quite a lot of humour in my art and I am particularly fond of collaging ‘gutter press’ magazine headlines into my pieces to add some sort of weird dimension to which the viewer can add their own thoughts and perceptions.
The other theme that runs through quite strongly is animals. I am a great respecter of the bird and animal kingdom and I paint a lot of animal, bird and underwater creature subjects, although these are often just for my own enjoyment. I was given a book for my birthday about Ernst Haeckel, the philosopher, biologist and artist and I have been greatly influenced by his beautiful illustrations.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I hope that they see the voice of a woman with a past, with lots of life experience, who has suffered ups and downs, who has a story to tell. However, I hope they also get my humour, positivity and personality coming through in my work. I had a very bad experience, I lost many, many years, when I was isolated and turned into a non-person, but I am making up for lost time. I am bruised, but my spirit is absolutely not broken.
What do you think about the term outsider art – is it an umbrella you’re happy to be under? Is there a more preferable term?
Well, due to my own life experience, I feel like an outsider most of the time. I’m not a ‘people person’ and some of this is, I’m sure, due to my past. I was bullied for many years and my self confidence was eroded to a massive extent. I still have anxiety issues because of it. I was also isolated from family, friends and any support networks, so I got into the habit of being self reliant. These days I have a wonderful partner and I am slowly but surely healing, but as my art is me, and I feel like an outsider, it is probably a reasonable term to use for my art.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have started work on some nude figures. As I mostly focus on heads in my paintings, this is going to be really interesting for me. I am also preparing some pieces for the Nottingham Castle Open, which is for emerging and established artists in the Midlands. I didn’t make it last year, but I am going to give it another go!
Where do you see your art taking you in the future?
I would obviously like more people to see my art. I have a website at www.bearoberts.co.uk and I would ideally like gallery representation further afield than my own county. To be represented by a London gallery would give my art credibility and would enable my work to be seen by serious art collectors. Meanwhile, I will continue to submit to as many exhibitions as I can and hopefully gain some collectors. I would also like to possibly create some larger works as I do work on quite a small scale currently.