Art, Writing, // March 21, 2014
Angela Brittain – ARTIST
Interview with artist Angela Brittain —
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am Angela Brittain, a narrative, figurative painter. My paintings are inspired by observations, lines from a poem or a song and sometimes by the sheer quirkiness of life. This is my sixth year as a full time painter and my paintings are now starting to gain national attention and awards and some are in private collections in England and Italy.
2. Why art?
I went into art because from schooldays I loved anything to do with making things or drawing & painting. I come from a family of creative thinkers & doers, whether it was making wooden objects, playing the clarinet or dressmaking.
3. What are your favorite media?
Working in oils is my prefered medium because they stay wet longer and have a lovely variable texture. Having said that, some of my work is in water-based media and I love the feeling and possibilities of charcoal.
4. How do you work and approach your subject?
My figures are imaginary but the situation is already in my head when I start. Working from studies and sketches keeps me on track and often my first thoughts are the ones I come back to because of their freshness. I keep drawing the same thing with variations in a free way until I arrive at the composition and pose I want.
5. What are your favorite artists?
My favorite artists are the English artists from the 1920’s like Sir Stanley Spencer and Edward Burra but also more recent artists like the Italian figurative painter Giovanni Maranghi and Mick Rooney RA.
6. What are the best responses you have had to your work?When people smile at my work I feel I have achieved a key objective. I had a recent exhibition at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery and many comments in the visitor’s book were about the wry humour in my work and how they warmed to this. Sometimes my subjects are not humorous but I hope they strike a chord so people say, “Ah, I know how that feels!”
7. What advice would you give to other artists?
I am constantly striving to make my work better. By this I mean the sheer skill of the underlying drawing and the simplicity. I am passionate about good composition and this underpins everything I do.
I teach in one-to-one workshops from my home studio and it seems there are two things that are common to many artists. Firstly to produce a work that is closer to the vision in their head and secondly to find their own style. Finding a style that unifies your works is by far the most difficult. Having been a graphic designer and art director who was often asked to do lots of different styles, when I concentrated on painting I found it difficult to know who I really was. Over the last few years I have developed what I hope is a recognizable body of work but I am still pushing it, pulling it and adding surprises. Long may it continue.
For me, being an artist can be a rollercoaster of great happiness with periods of despair and self-doubt. As this seems to be a common trait for artists I try to mitigate these feelings by doing other things – going to an art exhibition, a bike ride or doing something that stops me being so hard on myself and keeps my endeavours in proportion.
8. Where do you see yourself headed in future years?
Two things still make me bounce out of bed in the morning. The next exciting painting which is still a twinkle in my eye and a wish to reach an international market of art lovers possibly in Hungary, Georgia and South America. I feel I have an affinity with many paintings I have seen from these countries, possibly because I see echoes of my own works. I exhibit in London, mainly through open competitions such as the Society of Women Artists, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Watercolour Society and through my membership of the United Society of Artists. I also exhibit in the South of England as an elected member of the West Sussex Art Society and at Open Studios.
I enjoy doing commissions, especially if you have a particular event you would like captured. My current project is a painting to mark the Tour de France cycle race going through Buttertubs in Yorshire and am really enjoying the drawing and planning stage before I commit to canvas.