When I interviewed Julia Forsyth and Alison Jardine this past week, I had no idea that both would be selected yesterday at StumbleUpon in Skinny Artist's list of 21 Twitter Artists to Watch in 2010. But once again, it demonstrates the point I was making yesterday that the new Social Media has created a tremendous new cross pollination of ideas and given opportunity to emerging artists to widen their audience/customer base.
I discovered Julia through Twitter and Alison via my interview with Julia when I asked about some of her influences. Jardine, a British-born Texan, consented to sharing a bit of herself with us here. At the end of this interview you will find links to more of her remarkable work. I strongly encourage you to visit, and bookmark her site for many happy returns.
Ennyman: According to Google you are a British artist in Texas. Where were you from originally in Britain and how did you end up in Texas?
Alison Jardine: I grew up in South Yorkshire, which is a north-eastern county in England. I left as a teenager and lived in Europe, then moved around various parts of London for several years. After I met my husband, we lived in the historic university town of Cambridge and the Roman town of Chichester, on the south coast of England. In 2003, my husband was offered a job in Texas, and we decided to leave everything we knew and emigrate, together with our twin girls.
I’ve moved a lot! In fact, these seven years in Texas are the longest I’ve lived on one place since I was 17.
E: When did you first sense that you wanted to make art for a living and what were the first steps you took in that direction?
AJ: In terms of art for a living as opposed to art in my life, it was the day I moved to Texas, back in 2003. As part of this move, I had to give up my previous career as a writer and editor, since visa restrictions meant I wasn’t allowed to work.
As I unpacked in Texas, I unpacked my father’s old brushes, which are pretty much all I have that belonged to him (he died in 1999). It felt so obvious to me, what I had to do. I still feel that I speak to him, when I am in that ‘creative place’.
E: You state that much of your work is inspired by the joy you experienced in nature as a child. Can you elaborate on that?
AJ: There’s a lot of beautiful countryside in and around Yorkshire, such as the moors, the Pennines and the Peak District. We (I have two older sisters, and an older brother) would spend a lot of time visiting these areas when I was young. I also spent a lot of time walking alone in the woods near my house. It was an ancient wood with a medieval cart track through the middle, and the bluebells in spring would carpet the ground. It was an embracing and inspiring refuge for me, and it counterbalanced the grieving, chaotic atmosphere I grew up in, after my mother died when I was two years old. Our world is so precious and miraculous and I want people to notice it, not overlook it or take it for granted. For me it is a living presence, and my response to nature is very emotional and passionate. I try to portray this in my paintings.
E: You have some wonderful work on display at Ugallery. Have you been successful selling your work online? How did you find this particular venue?
AJ: I saw their elegant, professional gallery while I was looking at art online. As a curated gallery on the web, they have an in-depth online application and they carefully select art and artists that they believe in, and who appeal to their style. I met Alex and Stephen (the founders) in May of this year when they featured my work at the Affordable Art Fair in New York. They are real art lovers, and I think this shows in the success their gallery has had. I personally have been very happy with the fact my works have sold from the east to west coast of the US, and also internationally. The great thing about a truly well-developed online presence for a gallery is that it can reach beyond just local collectors.
E: Do you have any favorite magazines or other sources for staying current with what is happening in the art scene?
AJ: I subscribe to the print versions of the Royal Academy magazine, Art Lies and Modern Painters and to be honest, after reading I cut out photos of works I like and stick them in my journal. Next to them, I write what struck me about them, or what I wanted to remind myself of, whether a technique, or a mood, or a color set and so forth. Sometimes, I am so transfixed by the artwork I just have to keep them, for no good reason other than sheer love!
I also read on the web a lot. There is so much that I read online it would take a book to name all the sites and blogs. Two that I do want to mention because I find them individually memorable are Escape Into Life (www.escapeintolife.com), which features intriguing and unusual – but always beautiful – works of art, and also some great poetry and essays. I really appreciate great writing, and I find it every day there.
The other is Artdaily.com, which has international coverage of the new and notable. But as I say, there are many comprehensive sites out there on the Web, and many artists with inspiring and interesting personal blogs. I talk regularly on Twitter to many of these (@alisonjardine).
E: I also subscribe to the ArtDaily and would recommend it to anyone serious about making a career in the fine arts. Any favorite artists who have inspired you?
AJ: Yes! Other artists inspire me each and every day! Sometimes I don’t remember names, just the works themselves. However, here’s just a few I’ve returned to over the years: Mondrian (this is a big one for me), Phillip Sutton, Mary Fedden, L.S. Lowry, Cornelia Parker, Olafur Eliasson, Anthony Gormley, Dan Flavin, Matisse, Gwen Johns, Takeshi Murakami, Seurat, Rachel Whiteread. Where to stop?
E: Finally, a question I ask a lot... any advice for younger artists or emerging artists as they begin to spread their wings?
AJ: Yes! Work hard, and know that the work itself is the reason for doing this, not for praise or fame, even though our media seems to be full of such stories. To make a living doing anything at all takes hard work, and art is no exception. The overlooked fact today is that hard, committed work is deeply satisfying and worthwhile, and knowing this will keep you going through tough times.
Allison Jardine's currently available works can be purchased at Ugallery, a curated art gallery on the Web that offers a seven-day "no questions" returns policy, so you can try the art in your own home. She also accepts some commission work. And there's plenty to appreciate at her website as well, http://alisonjardine.com/