Artist Liz Wellby was one of the first to attend a Purple and Grey networking event and then has consistently used our services as and when she has needed something clarifying. Liz is an established artist, member of Peak District Artisans and Artist in Residence at Scarthin Books in Cromford in her interview below she describes the journey from the transition from working in the public sector to working for your self.
|Liz Attending Our First Networking Event in 2015.|
Describe your ideal working week and then tell us what actually happens!
That's a great question.
Thanks to the vagaries of politics, I was made redundant almost 3 years ago and having taught creative subjects for over 20 years, I was used to having a clear focus and a precise understanding of what I was doing each day at any given time. My change in circumstances has opened up something completely different to me and I have been pleasantly surprised with how I have adapted to a less structured work pattern, being far less conscious of the need to operate in blocks of an hour or know what I will be doing the following week.
My ideal working week would include a variety of experiences such as: individual tutoring, running a workshop or demonstrating a particular process to an arts group, developing my work through various drawing and print techniques and having the opportunity to visit a museum or gallery, so allowing time to look, think and consider new ideas.
However, the reality is quite different. Leaving my full-time teaching post has coincided with selling one home, renting a second and finally buying a new home with my husband. We were particularly keen to buy a home with space for a studio and workshop, but there were few properties to match our criteria, so we have spent the last year planning and adapting our new place to suit our requirements; I currently spend a significant amount of my week covered in dust and paint, firmly attached to rollers and brushes. Time to develop new work is proving a bit thin on the ground, as I have only just moved back into my studio and a new custom-made work bench is a few months away. I also spend 2 - 3 days tutoring Y10 and 11 students on a one to one basis, which creates a structure to my week; it is a satisfying role and one that I really enjoy.
You have been teaching professionally for many years was the transition to working for yourself an easy one and how is it benefiting your artwork?
Looking back on my time in Education I know realise that, unsurprisingly, I had become institutionalised and I found it necessary to work in a particular manner to ensure that I met the needs of my students and the staff I worked with; I felt increasingly driven by external pressures, rather than spontaneity and creativity, which is not a good thing for an artist. However, as a result of teaching a range of subjects I had developed a wide range of skills and was particularly adept at ‘plate spinning’. The move to working for myself has proved to be easier than I had anticipated; it had always been my intention to do this at some point, so I had already thought about some of the issues I would need to focus on. My art work is already beginning to benefit from having more time to think and make, rather than slotting the time to create into Sunday afternoons and an odd evening each week. I hope to explore more monoprinting, lino and wood cutting techniques, plus larger scale wire sculptures.
We have been working with you for over a year conducting one to one consultations with you on various social media topics how has social media changed or helped your practice?
Social media has definitely changed my practice. Until relatively recently, I, like most artists, worked quietly away and presented new, finished pieces through exhibitions, as a method of introducing new work to the public. However, it's now essential to promote our work on a far more
regular basis through FB or Twitter, at least on a weekly if not daily basis. I feel I now show more of the journey and the development of an idea and a piece, which encourages a greater openness about the success or failures we as artists might have. This also creates greater opportunities to promote what we do and I am far more aware of the need to communicate with friends and followers.
As an artist in residence at Scarthin Books in Cromford how has immersing yourself in an environment over a long period of time enabled you to develop a new body of work?
When I first started having conversations with David Booker, the general manager at Scarthin Books, I didn't quite anticipate how interesting and satisfying this journey would be, or how quickly that time would pass, hence adding a second year to the residency. This is the first time that I have undertaken an extended arts residency and I although it is important to have some understanding of what you may do, I don't think you can be certain of where it will lead.
My plan was to make a particular focus with working on my iPad, as it seemed inappropriate to use pastels or watercolours in a bookshop environment. At the start of the residency I felt pretty confident using Brushes XP, but looking back, I now realise how much my skills have developed using this app and I now am able to create far more complex images as a result of this extended period of time to explore and experiment.
I have found immersing myself in an environment for a period of time has been quite a revelation. I really value the ability to return to a venue and try out new ideas, may that be with composition, a different colour palette or mark types, by simply working in a different room or working on interior views on one visit and portraiture the next.
I have particularly enjoyed creating portraits of the staff at Scarthin Books and really appreciate how they have responded to the outcomes with real enthusiasm and appreciation. I also intend to develop further portraits of visiting authors and visitors to the bookshop.
You have conducted a very successful workshop for us this year and we hope to have you back next year are workshops something you are keen to pursue as part of your business going forward?
|Liz Conducting a Monoprinting Workshop for Purple and Grey.|
Thank you; that's very kind of you to say so.
The idea of being an artist working in isolation is not something that appeals to me, as for the last 20 or so years I have been used to having people around me. I do enjoy having time on my own, but I also enjoy having contact with other people and the opportunity to share my skills, knowledge, and the passion I have for creating. It is incredibly satisfying to teach people new skills and this will definitely be part of how I want to spend a proportion of my time.
As I tap away, my husband is busily, and noisily, constructing a work bench in his workshop and once this is complete, I will be able to help him make a workbench for use in my studio; this will also be used when I run workshops. I am really looking forward to having a new studio and a lot of time and effort is going into getting it right for myself and for people who want to join me here for courses and workshops.